About 20 protesters have begun to block the Canadian National Railway line in downtown Winnipeg on Monday in support of Palestinians in Gaza.
A small group of protesters were seen standing on the CN rail line near Main Street and York avenue at the Forks on Monday afternoon, with a larger group on the street below.
The protesters were carrying Palestinian flags as well as signs that say “ceasefire now” and “Palestine will never die.”
“We’re calling for a ceasefire,” protester Dasha Plett told CBC News.
Plett says the group targeted the rail line because CN has business ties to one of Israel’s largest shipping companies, ZIM.
“CN is very vital for them to access the North American market and they are an Israeli company,” she said.
A CN spokesperson told CBC News that the company is aware of the situation and is monitoring it.
About 240 hostages were taken during a deadly cross-border rampage into Israel by Hamas militants on Oct. 7, which prompted Israel to invade the tiny Palestinian territory to wipe out the Islamist movement after several inconclusive wars since 2007.
Around 1,200 people, mostly civilians including several Canadians, were killed in the Hamas assault, according to Israeli tallies, the deadliest day in Israel’s 75-year history. Since then, Gaza’s Hamas-run government said at least 13,300 Palestinians have been killed, including at least 5,500 children, by unrelenting Israeli bombardment.
Plett says the blockade of the CN rail line in Winnipeg is “answering the call of Palestinian organizations to disrupt politicians, businesses, organizations and infrastructure” which support Israel.
Winnipeg police have been notified, said Plett, but the group is “staying put.” She would not comment on how long the group plans to stay.
“We’re making a charter rights argument that we can be here because of public assembly, and that that’s a higher form of the law than the ones that they’re threatening us with.”
CBC News observed two police officers speaking with members of the rail line protest shortly after speaking to Plett on Monday afternoon. Winnipeg police have not yet responded to a request for comment.