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Date: 08/01/20 01:05
And now, the latest protest...
Author: GenePoon

Northern Manitoba First Nation protests VIA Rail over ticket access, fair treatment 

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Chief says too few seats available for residents in isolated community 

Lenard Monkman ·

CBC News ·


Posted: Jul 30, 2020


 https://i.cbc.ca/1.5669722.1596152133!/fileImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/16x9_780/war-lake.jpg


People from War Lake First Nation stand alongside the rails in Ilford, Man., with signs during a protest Wednesday night. (Submitted by Trina Ouskun)


A northern Manitoba First Nation held a protest Wednesday night by the VIA Rail tracks in the community over complaints of priority treatment being given to tourists.


"We had a protest when the train came into the community [last night] to let them know that if we're going to be treated in this way, there will be a blockade and we're pretty serious about that," said War Lake First Nation Chief Betsy Kennedy. 


The community about 700 kilometres north of Winnipeg is not accessible by road and relies on VIA Rail's Winnipeg-Churchill train service, which goes through the community three times a week, for people to shop and get necessities.


On Wednesday night, people in Ilford, Man., gathered with signs as the train arrived. 


"It's mostly because we're not able to get any seats on the passenger train," said Kennedy.


"We use this passenger [train] regularly and we noticed that VIA Rail is selling out the tickets to the tourists that are on the train now."


Kennedy said people in the community use the train year round, but recently residents are having a hard time buying tickets to get to Thompson.


She said residents are doing what is being asked of them — they are phoning ahead to make a booking — but said everything is being booked by tourists months ahead of time. On top of that, customers are being told they need to use credit cards to pay for tickets even when bought in person at the station, and the chief said it is not ideal for people in the community.
"We're pretty upset that this is happening," said Kennedy.


They're asking for Via Rail to make more seats available by adding a third coach to the train.


Garrison Settee, grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak which represents 26 First Nations in northern Manitoba, said the First Nations along the train route are being treated with disrespect in their own territory.


"The people of War Lake and other First Nations along the railway depend on this as their only mode of transportation and one of the concerns that I have is that our people should never be treated as second class citizens," said Settee.


COVID-19 concerns


While Kennedy is not opposed to having tourists visit the north, she said First Nations passengers should be treated equally on the train. She alleged VIA Rail staff have threatened to kick off First Nations passengers for not having masks, while being lax toward tourists on the trains about the same issue.
She said the community has been following the province's public health guidelines, including wearing masks and sanitizing their hands, however, she is worried for her community members' safety, especially when they have to travel on the same trains as the tourists. 






https://i.cbc.ca/1.5669715.1596206826!/fileImage/httpImage/image.JPG_gen/derivatives/original_780/chief-betsy-kennedy.JPG

Betsy Kennedy has been the chief of War Lake since 2006. She said they are willing to block the tracks if they are not treated fairly. (Submitted/Selena Ross)


"We will try and protect ourselves and protect our families. All we want is to be treated fairly," said Kennedy.


In an emailed statement to CBC News, a VIA Rail spokesperson wrote that "We are sensitive and understand the nature of the concerns raised and are working to find and quickly implement the best solution for all communities. We will not comment further at this moment as we are currently having ongoing discussions to address the concerns and are adjusting our service operation plans accordingly."


The spokesperson added masks are mandatory at all times for all employees and that passengers may be denied service or detrained for refusing to wear a mask during their trip.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 08/01/20 01:07 by GenePoon.



Date: 08/01/20 04:43
Re: And now, the latest protest...
Author: DrawingroomA

The reference to tourists is confusing.  This two-day trip currently offers  no sleeping car or meal and beverage service. A free box with water and a snack is offered. Passengers must bring their own food. I doubt there will be many tourists going to Churchill.

VIA is not selling all the seats on any of their trains to allow for "physical distancing". So the two coaches which have a capacity of a little over 120 will be severely restricted. Perhaps they should add a third coach.



Date: 08/01/20 05:14
Re: And now, the latest protest...
Author: mp51w

No sleeping car?  I wouldn't have guessed that!



Date: 08/01/20 05:25
Re: And now, the latest protest...
Author: andersonb109

First come first serve. Applys all throughout the travel industry.  Hotels often block out rooms for tour companies and Amtrak does as well. So booking early is even more important now with reduced capacity. As for the cash issue, many places currently aren't aren't accepting cash as it's considered a prime virus transmission vehicle. There's even a coin shortage in the U.S. as people aren't circulating them enough. Anyone seen a parking meter that is actually in service lately?  If anyone doesn't have or can't get credit, a debit card should be easily obtainable. Agree highly unlikely there are any tourists on the train with no sleeper or diner.



Date: 08/01/20 05:30
Re: And now, the latest protest...
Author: joemvcnj

I side entirely on the First Nation's side this time.

Refusing to add coaches and revenue when needed for their essential service is right out of Amtrak's playbook.

Posted from Android



Date: 08/01/20 06:32
Re: And now, the latest protest...
Author: march_hare

It's not like VIA doesn't have idle coaches sitting around. Just add one or two to the consist. 

and enforce masks fairly, also. 



Date: 08/01/20 07:32
Re: And now, the latest protest...
Author: viatrainrider

Am sure the good VIA staff at WPG will resolve this.



Date: 08/01/20 07:52
Re: And now, the latest protest...
Author: engineerinvirginia

viatrainrider Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Am sure the good VIA staff at WPG will resolve
> this.

I'm surprised they even have to give it any thought....if safe spacing is causing coaches to sell out...use more coaches....



Date: 08/01/20 08:11
Re: And now, the latest protest...
Author: yorknl

Thank you for applying Delta One-size-fits-all-logic to a First Nations community in northern Manitoba. I too am positive that in an area requiring VIA service just to get to a town to buy groceries there are plenty of well-paying jobs such that everyone has stellar credit and platinum cards. Why, it's a wonder they're not just cashing in miles to hop a flight to Winnipeg or Detroit to get out of town for the weekend! Silly people - get with the times already.

andersonb109 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> First come first serve. Applys all throughout the
> travel industry.  Hotels often block out rooms
> for tour companies and Amtrak does as well. So
> booking early is even more important now with
> reduced capacity. As for the cash issue, many
> places currently aren't aren't accepting cash as
> it's considered a prime virus transmission
> vehicle. There's even a coin shortage in the U.S.
> as people aren't circulating them enough. Anyone
> seen a parking meter that is actually in service
> lately?  If anyone doesn't have or can't get
> credit, a debit card should be easily obtainable.
> Agree highly unlikely there are any tourists on
> the train with no sleeper or diner.



Date: 08/01/20 09:13
Re: And now, the latest protest...
Author: Magellan13

This is one of the remote routes where VIA is mandated to provide service due to the communities (Ilford, Thicket Portage, Pikwitonei, Churchill) along the line that have no other reasonable means to reach the outside world (particularly in the summer), so this does seem like a valid complaint.  Hopefully they will simply add an extra coach or two if the reduced seating is causing this problem.

Magellan



Date: 08/01/20 12:18
Re: And now, the latest protest...
Author: RuleG

andersonb109 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> First come first serve. Applys all throughout the
> travel industry.  Hotels often block out rooms
> for tour companies and Amtrak does as well. So
> booking early is even more important now with
> reduced capacity. As for the cash issue, many
> places currently aren't aren't accepting cash as
> it's considered a prime virus transmission
> vehicle. There's even a coin shortage in the U.S.
> as people aren't circulating them enough. Anyone
> seen a parking meter that is actually in service
> lately?  If anyone doesn't have or can't get
> credit, a debit card should be easily obtainable.
> Agree highly unlikely there are any tourists on
> the train with no sleeper or diner.

Once again, you post commentary showing you totally lack empathy towards people in less fortunate circumstances than you.



Date: 08/01/20 13:01
Re: And now, the latest protest...
Author: RRBaron

RuleG Wrote:
> > First come first serve. Applys all throughout
> the travel industry.  

> Once again, you post commentary showing you
> totally lack empathy towards people in less
> fortunate circumstances than you.

Let's see now, are the First Nations partaking of the "Travel Industry", or are they cut-off from their homes and People? BTW, whose land is it really?   
As one old First Nation told me years ago on the Churchill train, how they manage to "negotiate" with the Canadian government he replied: "We have all the time in the world, we were here 10,000 years before the Canadian Gov't and we will still be here 10,000  years after the Canadian Gov't. The Canadian Gov't is just a "speed bump" in our history!" Much to VIA's regret, sometimes a First Nation will "buy" his ticket from the crew with fresh picked blue berries (bluettes). At the time, a bucke's worth bought 20$ in travel. 



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 08/01/20 13:05 by RRBaron.



Date: 08/01/20 13:44
Re: And now, the latest protest...
Author: RuleG

RRBaron Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> Let's see now, are the First Nations partaking of
> the "Travel Industry", or are they cut-off from
> their homes and People? BTW, whose land is it
> really?   
> As one old First Nation told me years ago on the
> Churchill train, how they manage to "negotiate"
> with the Canadian government he replied: "We have
> all the time in the world, we were here 10,000
> years before the Canadian Gov't and we will still
> be here 10,000  years after the Canadian Gov't.
> The Canadian Gov't is just a "speed bump" in our
> history!" Much to VIA's regret, sometimes a First
> Nation will "buy" his ticket from the crew with
> fresh picked blue berries (bluettes). At the time,
> a bucke's worth bought 20$ in travel. 

I do not know enough Canadian history to reply to your question "Whose land is it, anyway?"  This question as well as the rest of your post is non-responsive to my comment.

Based on the information provided in the article, this is an issue of providing basic transportation for people with limited travel options.  In this context, adding a third coach is not an unreasonable request.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/01/20 14:37 by RuleG.



Date: 08/01/20 14:16
Re: And now, the latest protest...
Author: joemvcnj

VIA Rail is adopting an attitude similar to Amtrak outside the Corridor: It is an "experiential" service for the tourist and no one uses it out of necessity. I hope their comrades in Ontario have a sympathetic blockage of the Corridor tracks near Ottawa until the mucky-mucks at VIA Rail emerge from Victimhood and get a 3rd coach. 



Date: 08/01/20 14:27
Re: And now, the latest protest...
Author: engineerinvirginia

The 'who's land is it' question is certainly not easily answered...it falls in part to a difference in the way native tribes used land.....we Europeans recognize private property largely, and when we have our plot is ours lock stock and barrel....the we were here first argument holds water, but everyone recognizes that might makes right, and you negotiate with the stronger party, and so ultimately...who's land it is, is whomever all are generally agreed about who. And treaties as much as you would to think them gospel aren't suitable for toilet paper unless all parties adhere. 

But the matter at hand is, Via has a train, and not all punters can get a ticket....simple....ad more coaches so that there is a slight surplus of useable seats....no brainer. ,



Date: 08/01/20 15:18
Re: And now, the latest protest...
Author: Lackawanna484

Did feds, Via and the provinces agree to provide access?

If they did, why aren't they accommodating the locals?

Add the coach.

Posted from Android



Date: 08/01/20 15:28
Re: And now, the latest protest...
Author: robj

And you need to really get down to the details?  Is this a regular problem?  Once in a while?.  Did a large group decide to make the trip, either locals or "tourists" on some particular days or holiday leading to a shortage of seats.
Third coach would not guarantee that there will be a seat for everyone that wants one on every day.  Do you  add an extra coach so that maybe once or twice a month you have enough seats for a few extra people?  No mode of public transportation guarantees enough seating for everyone all the time.


Bob



Date: 08/01/20 17:46
Re: And now, the latest protest...
Author: 4489

RuleG Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> andersonb109 Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > First come first serve. Applys all throughout
> the
> > travel industry.  Hotels often block out rooms
> > for tour companies and Amtrak does as well. So
> > booking early is even more important now with
> > reduced capacity. As for the cash issue, many
> > places currently aren't aren't accepting cash
> as
> > it's considered a prime virus transmission
> > vehicle. There's even a coin shortage in the
> U.S.
> > as people aren't circulating them enough.
> Anyone
> > seen a parking meter that is actually in
> service
> > lately?  If anyone doesn't have or can't get
> > credit, a debit card should be easily
> obtainable.
> > Agree highly unlikely there are any tourists on
> > the train with no sleeper or diner.
>
> Once again, you post commentary showing you
> totally lack empathy towards people in less
> fortunate circumstances than you.

He is just in lockstep with his leader!



Date: 08/01/20 18:53
Re: And now, the latest protest...
Author: tq-07fan

Hey Bruce, I'm going to assume you've never rode any of the remote service trains in Canada. I rode the Tshiutein five years ago and the Ontario Northland Polar Bear before that. I would guess part of the people simply rode the train when groceries get low or some kind of appliance fails and a new one is needed. Since it is impossible to predict when something is going to fail or when you are going to run out of other stuff it would be impossible to do advance bookings. Basically the train is the equivalent of getting in the car and driving to Meijer, except the trip to get groceries is a multi-day trip.

I too side with the First Nations people on this one, add another coach VIA. 

Jim 



Date: 08/01/20 23:20
Re: And now, the latest protest...
Author: feclark

I took this photo of graffiti on a well car passing through Brettville Junction (Edmonton) on May 20, 2019, CN train 142. I've wondered when I would ever find an appropriate time to post it. Looks like I found it! Food for thought or fuel for the fire.
Fred



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/01/20 23:21 by feclark.




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