Aboriginal protest slows traffic along Highway 102
Many travellers in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were delayed today as protesters took to highways as part of the Idle No More movement.
Aboriginal groups are protesting changes to the Indian Act, Bill C-45.
On Highway 102 near Truro, N.S. many groups lined up and passed out pamphlets on Bill C-45 to motorists.
“We’re very against it,” said Roberta Bernard of the Indian Brook First Nation. “We’d like to negotiate with the prime minister about it.”
Some motorists were patient, but others weren’t pleased about being tied up on one of the busiest days of the year.
“Hell with them,” said one traveller.
“This is kind of ridiculous, especially this time of year,” said another.
Other motorists were a little more understanding.
“That’s fair, that’s cool,” one traveller told CTV News. “I think it’s great.”
“Yeah I understand,” said another. “I’m glad it’s that and not an accident or anything else.”
RCMP remained on site to ensure the safety of both motorists and protesters.
“This is the Friday before Christmas,” said Sgt. Al Affleck. “Most people have taken Monday off, most people are going to see their loved ones today.”
People travelling between Halifax and Cape Breton experienced delays near the Canso Causeway for a time Friday.
At one point, police in Aulds Cove were shutting traffic down in both directions, to allow protesters a roadside ceremony of prayer and speeches.
“We are not trying to disrupt anyone’s travel plans,” said Mi’kmaq Band Chief Rod Goo Goo. “We are just trying to get a message out.”
“We thought today would be a good day to share information with people,” said protest organizer Molly Peters.
They say the information is important, not just for native peoples, but for all Canadians.
“I think my biggest concern is losing our identity,” said Clara Prosper of Millbrook Paqtnkek First Nation.
“It opens up too many loose avenues in protection of the land, protections of the water, protections of the earth,” explained Chief Bob Gloade of the Millbrook First Nation. “That’s our biggest concern because we have been stewards of the land for many years.”
Over the last week, aboriginal groups have been protesting in various provinces. The rallies on Maritime highways are part of a coordinated effort across the country.
Similar demonstrations took place in New Brunswick, where traffic was reduced to one lane on the Trans-Canada Highway near the Woodstock First Nation.
“We’ve chosen to take only half of the highway here and shut down one lane because we don’t want to make the non-native people mad at us for inconveniencing them,” said protest organizer Anatasha Lyons. “Especially around the holidays.”
Changes to Bill C-45 will become law in the new year.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Jacqueline Foster