SARNIA—Traffic on the Blue Water Bridge to Michigan stopped completely for just over an hour Sat. afternoon as about 250 protestors, including many from the local aboriginal community, marched onto Highway 402 and blocked the road in support of hunger strikes by chiefs and elders across Canada.
The protestors, carrying signs protesting Conservative environmental policies and supporting the Idle No More movement, walked peacefully on to the highway from an entrance in the nearby village of Point Edward, following a convoy of cars and a truck carrying native drummers and singers.
Under the watchful eye of numerous Ontario Provincial Police officers, the blockaders began their march from a snowy and wind-swept location by St. Clair River directly under the bridge this morning. Organizers first held an aboriginal water ceremony by a monument dedicated to the memory of native ancestors, and then drove and marched to the bridge entrance.
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O.P.P. officers warned the organizers that their actions were illegal, but the officers offered their protection to the protestors if they followed an agreed-to route.
The marchers stopped at the bridge entrance for about 10 minutes while the OPP closed the highway. A police vehicle that had been parked across the entrance was pulled back by officers, clearing the way for the march to proceed.
It’s unclear when the usually-busy toll bridge, which connects the southeastern Ontario city and Akwesasne, Ont., to Massena, N.Y., will be re-opened.
Cornwall Sgt. Marc Bissonnette says there are about 100 to 150 demonstrators marching on the bridge.
Similar demonstrations have been planned at several other locations, including the Peace Arch crossing in Surrey, B.C., the Peace Bridge between Fort Erie, Ont., and Buffalo, N.Y., and the Queenston/Lewiston Bridge in Niagara Falls.
On Friday, Harper agreed to a meeting with Spence, which has been set for Jan. 11.
With files from The Canadian Press