TYENDINAGA MOHAWK TERRITORY – When the RCMP invaded Wet’suwet’en territory on February 6th 2020, solidarity actions in support of the Wet’suwet’en sprung up across Canada. The port of Vancouver was shut down, Indigenous youth occupied the legislature in Victoria, traffic on Highway 403 near Six Nations was brought to a halt. Across Canada several MPs including cabinet ministers had their offices occupied and solidarity demonstrations took place in cities across the land.

Update from Brandie Maracle

But perhaps the most significant action took place in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, where the people stopped rail traffic through their community in response to the RCMP raids in Wet’suwet’en territory. This action was taken in solidarity with the land defenders currently opposing the CGL pipeline project on Wet’suwet’en territory. Demonstrators say they will not allow any trains to pass through Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory until the RCMP leaves Wet’suwet’en Yint’ah (lands).

The CN rail line through Tyendinaga generates hundreds of millions of dollars for the Canadian economy and yet the people of Tyendinaga don’t see any benefit from it.

Despite earlier mainstream media reports that the blockade had ended, dozens of Mohawks and their supporters remain at the site on Wyman road as VIA rail suspends all passenger traffic from Toronto to Montreal. There has been no attempt at negotiation from police or industry as the blockade stretches into its third day. The protest has been peaceful as one person pointed out “We are not on the track we are sitting next to the tracks, we didn’t shut the trains down [CN rail] did”. 

Supporters showed up throughout the day with wood, pizza, soup, coffee and clothing. The community is firmly behind the blockade and firmly against the actions of the RCMP out West. “We haven’t had one miserable or angry person come through here, everybody is so concerned, even non-natives are concerned (with the RCMP raids)” Cory, a non-native resident of Tyendinaga came out with several pizzas, blankets and clothing saying “I respect natives, I’m just here to help, if you need anything let me know” he said “I support you guys 100%.”

George Zachariah. 76 is a veteran of several Mohawk blockades who came out on Friday to show his support. “I have been on 5 blockades and been arrested twice” He told Real People’s Media. A cancer survivor, he self-medicates with cannabis, still he has come out to block the trains and stand up “for the people”.

People occupying the blockade are following the events in Wet’suwet’en very closely. One woman said her “heart shattered” as she watched the RCMP raid. Another described what they were seeing as “genocide”. Everyone is constantly checking their social media feeds, eager for any new information on their comrades in arms.

As Livestreams begin showing current RCMP raids everyone gathers with baited breath. Hopes and fears run strong on the blockade. “The RCMP have live ammo” says one demonstrator “Maybe this is the start of something bigger” says another. There is little concern paid to the OPP parked just down the street, all eyes are on the Wet’suwet’en. 

Determination is clear on everyone’s faces. One woman at the blockade said “All of us across Turtle Island are coming together as units, as communities sticking together. There is not one person running everything, we are all doing this together.” She went on to say “I’ve never seen everybody connect and rise up together like this before, we’re all standing.”

Another land defender who identified himself as Jake said “We are all one nation, so guess what, we all stand together, we are a people, if they need our help, we’ll give them help, I will be here as long as I need to be.”

The people of Tyendinaga feel a strong connection and admiration for Wet’suwet’en people, in the words of one Mohawk woman “They haven’t been bought, they haven’t given up any rights, they’re very courageous people.”

When asked what the days ahead might hold the answer from the Mohawks were simple “Strength pride and courage”