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Quebec police arrest 9 Algonquin protesters, end blockade

Quebec provincial police have broken up a blockade set up Monday by a group of Algonquin protesters on a western Quebec highway and have arrested nine people.

An activist at the scene alleged that police used tear gas to disperse the protesters, who were from the Barriere Lake reserve, about 300 kilometres north of Ottawa.

About 50 protesters set up barrels and logs around 6 a.m. ET Monday on Highway 117, which connects the Abitibi region to the Outaouais and Montreal regions. The blockade was at kilometre 362, near Grand-Remous, where the highway joins du Lac Rapide Road in La Vérandrye wildlife reserve. It remained peaceful into the afternoon.

However, the highway is the sole direct route between the Abitibi region and the rest of Quebec. The only other option is to circle around through Ontario.

The Algonquin protesters alleged that Canada and Quebec are not respecting agreements concerning economic development and resource management within their territory. They were also demanding that the federal government appoint an observer to oversee the selection of a new chief for the reserve.

They said the blockade would continue until those demands were met.

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