Torch Relay Blocked at Oneida
Torch relay makes brief detour, heads deeper into Ontario
By Martha Worboy, Canwest News Service, December 22, 2009
LONDON, Ont. — For the second day in a row the Olympic torch relay was forced to take a detour around a native reserve due to safety concerns.
A road blockade was set up by protesters leading up to the Oneida of the Thames reserve, an Oneida First Nation near London, Ont., where the flame was to make its 10th community appearance of the day.
“We will not visit Oneida as a faction of the community has pledged to disrupt the relay and prohibit us from entering the community,” the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games said in a news release.
VANOC made the decision in conjunction with the RCMP and the Ontario Provincial Police to ensure the safety of the participants and spectators would not be jeopardized in any way, according to Suzanne Reeves, director of communications for the Olympic flame relay.
“It is unfortunate there is a blockade in Oneida today and we are disappointed that we will not be able to bring the Olympic flame and its message of peace, brotherhood and friendship to the families and children of Oneida,” Jim Richards, the torch relay program director, said in a statement.
The torch was rerouted to a community centre on the outskirts of Oneida and from there continued on its planned route successfully through Chippewas of the Thames and Munsee-Delaware, both native reserves on the Thames River near London.
On Monday, at Six Nations of the Grand River, the relay was rerouted from main roads to the grounds of a bingo hall to avoid a possible conflict with protesters.