PETER CONRADI/Bullet News
About 60 people marched in Niagara Falls Wednesday afternoon, snarling traffic on Highway 420 for about half an hour and interrupting travel on the Rainbow Bridge for about 10 minutes, as part of the Idle No More national day of action.
Protesters gathered around 2:45 p.m. at the GO Transit parking lot on Stanley Avenue to assemble for the walk, which started around 45 minutes later, and took the parade down to the Fallsview area at Table Rock.
Niagara Regional Police, OPP and Niagara Parks Police looked on and provided an escort as the marchers moved along the route. The crowd, natives and non-natives, adults and children, beat drums and shouted slogans, but the event was peaceful.
Police shut down Highway 420 heading into the city which backed up traffic for a long distance.
Marchers arrived at the Rainbow Bridge where they stopped to perform a song and do a traditional Native American Round Dance. From there they proceeded to Table Rock for a tobacco ceremony, a tradition that is believed to show respect for the water.
“The Niagara River was a meeting spot for all nations to come to,” organizer Jamie McGean said. “It’s extremely important to us.”
The Idle No More campaign began a few months ago and started gaining momentum in December. It is an initiative of the native community seeking to draw attention to First Nations issues.
Theresa Spence, chief of the remote Attawapiskat reserve in northern Ontario, became the face of the movement after going on a hunger strike, demanding a meeting be held between Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Gov. Gen. David Johnson and other First Nations leaders.
Harper met with First Nations chiefs Jan. 11 but Spence refused to attend because Johnson was not included.
Elsewhere Wedneday, VIA Rail was forced to stop passenger trains travelling both ways from Toronto to Montreal and Ottawa because of a blockade on the tracks near Marysville, Ont. Protesters started blockading the area, where CN Rail and Canadian Pacific tracks intersect, just before 2 p.m.
This is the third time the tracks near Marysville, between Belleville and Kingston, have been blocked as part of a protest.
Hundreds of people also marched to the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor around 11 a.m. and cut off traffic until about 2 p.m.
-with files from Niagara This Week