Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Sandy Bay residents to shut down Trans-Canada Highway Saturday

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Dozens of people will shut down the Trans-Canada Highway Saturday for hours in order to highlight problems facing aboriginal people.

Tricia Beaulieu, a 25-year-old resident of Sandy Bay First Nation and organizer of the event, said vehicles will be parked on the Trans-Canada near Highway 16 to block traffic as part of the Idle No More protest.

Beaulieu, a radio station receptionist, said she’s expecting 200 or more people to attend the event, which goes from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Their plan is to use vehicles to stop traffic on the highway, she said, and "absolutely nothing" will be let past.

"Not everybody else has a job in Sandy Bay, and it’s pretty hard to find work out here because of what’s going on with this poverty and everything," said Beaulieu, who said the protest is aimed at Prime Minister Stephen Harper. "We’re kind of in the hole out in Sandy Bay, and they’re just trying to put us more in the hole by taking away our rights and stripping us of everything."

The Idle No More movement across Canada is aimed at drawing attention to threats to aboriginal land and treaty rights.

A rally has already been held at the Manitoba legislature, which attracted 400 people.

Beaulieu said her seven-year-old son faced serious health issues such as pneumonia and whooping cough when he was younger, and her 56-year-old mother is diabetic and had a heart attack.

She lives with her mother and her son at a home on the reserve 165 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg.

"A lot of our people on this reserve are ill, elders, children," she said, saying she grapples with asthma and needs medication, too.

The RCMP said they’ll update the media if a blockade on the highway happens.

Cpl. Miles Hiebert, RCMP D Division spokesman, said the "RCMP will work to provide a peaceful and safe resolution."

"As for a protest, the RCMP respects the right of Canadians to participate in peaceful protest, and will work to ensure the safety of any participants involved in peaceful protest, as well as the safety of motorists using the roadways," said Hiebert, in an email Friday.


Updated on Friday, December 14, 2012 at 12:16 PM CST: corrects typo

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