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Protests crop up across Canada

Aboriginals and their supporters blocked bridges, slowed traffic on highways and stalled rail lines today as the Idle No More movement flexed its muscles in a public show of solidarity.

After pleas from First Nations leaders for civility on both sides, peaceful protest appeared to be the order of the day, but motives varied. Some groups spoke of their own land claims, others decried the federal government's changes to environmental oversight. Still others spoke of the need to honour all First Nations treaties.

In a message on their Facebook page, Idle No More organizers said their goal was to resist government policies in a peaceful and respectful way.

"It can be done," the post said. "It can be done without aggression or violence. This is an energetic, exciting and transformative time."

Hundreds of people gathered at the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ont., to temporarily snarl the busiest Canada-U.S. border-crossing point.

At one point, transport trucks were lined up for about a kilometre. Police said one entrance to the bridge was blocked, but a second remained open.

A group of people also set up a blockade on a rail line near Belleville, Ont., about a two-hour drive northeast of Toronto. Via Rail said the blockade halted the movement of trains between Toronto and Montreal and Ottawa.

A handful of flag-waving demonstrators also stopped a train on a rail line an hour west of Winnipeg.

Marchers were also on hand to temporarily divert traffic from a main bridge in Miramichi, the biggest city in northern New Brunswick.

About 150 people rallied outside the residence of New Brunswick Lt.-Gov. Graydon Nicholas. They pounded drums, sang and waved signs as they walked from the St. Mary's First Nation and marched through Fredericton

In Quebec, about two hours northeast of Ottawa, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake also slowed traffic along Highway 117.

In northern Alberta, members of the Lubicon Lake Nation staged information checkpoints on roads through the oilsands region.

"We're not out blocking the roads and shutting things down, we're not at that point," Coun. Bryan Laboucan said of the demonstration.

"All we're doing here today is taking a few minutes to talk to people visiting our territory, whether for work or just passing through, and educate them on our situation."

The Canadian Press


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