[WSMDiscuss] Nunavut hunters end blockades, but Baffinland mine corporation pushes ahead with injunction against them (Emma Tranter)
jai.sen at cacim.net
Mon Feb 15 20:49:21 CET 2021
Monday, February 15, 2021
Indigenous Peoples in movement…, Inuit in movement…, Turtle Island in movement…, Mother Earth in movement…, Resistance in movement…, History in movement…, Cultures in movement…
[Further my post twelve days ago (‘Indigenous opposition to Arctic mine expansion could halt development’, at https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/article-baffinland-iron-ore-expansion-plans-in-arctic-raise-concerns-for-inuit/ <https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/article-baffinland-iron-ore-expansion-plans-in-arctic-raise-concerns-for-inuit/>), some major developments – and where it seems to me at least, that the ruling to be issued by the court where the case is being heard in Nunavut could have enormous and long-lasting consequences for the region and its people, whichever way it goes, and is therefore a major test for Settler Canada’s supposed tryst with reconciliation with its Indigenous Peoples :
Nunavut hunters end blockades, but Baffinland mine corporation pushes ahead with injunction against them
The Canadian Press
Published February 13, 2021
A truck carrying ore at the Mary River mine near Pond Inlet, Nunavut (Photo taken during summer months - js) (HO/The Canadian Press)
Baffinland Iron Mine Corp. has pushed ahead with an injunction against a group of Nunavut hunters who blocked the road and airstrip at its Mary River mine in protest of a plan to expand the project.
A group of seven Inuit hunters, who call themselves the Nuluujat Land Guardians, protested at the mine for a week before departing on Feb. 10.
But Brad Armstrong, lawyer for Baffinland, argued the injunction is necessary “to be sure that these blockades do not reoccur.”
“It is necessary to ensure that the company can continue its operations without interruption. It will tell the Guardians they cannot come back,” Mr. Armstrong said.
Mr. Armstrong’s comments came during a Saturday-morning hearing at the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit.
Guardians’ lawyer Lori Idlout countered that the injunction was unnecessary, citing the hunters’ decision to end the blockade of their own accord.
She said the protest ended after the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, the organization representing Inuit in the region, and land-claim body Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. offered the hunters a face-to-face meeting, which they accepted.
Ms. Idlout said the hunters have since returned to their home communities of Pond Inlet and Arctic Bay, some of which are more than 300 kilometres from the proposed mine expansion.
Baffinland is in the middle of environmental hearings on its bid to double the mine’s output of iron ore from six million to 12 million tonnes and build a 110-kilometre railway from the mine to the ocean for shipping. The railway would be the only one in Nunavut and the most northern in Canada.
Some hunters and community members in the North Baffin region have said they fear the company is moving too fast and not properly considering the effects an expansion would have on wildlife, including narwhal and caribou populations.
Baffinland asked for a temporary injunction against the hunters last week, which was in place until Saturday’s hearing.
Baffinland said the blockade had caused some 700 employees at the mine to be stranded and grounded all food and supply flights to the mine.
Ms. Idlout argued that extending the injunction is unnecessary because the hunters had immediately responded to the court’s order and are in the middle of planning for their coming meeting.
“They are few in numbers and their resources are focused currently on meeting with Inuit organizations to advance their environmental goals and protecting Inuit rights,” Ms. Idlout said.
The day and time of the meeting has not yet been set.
If granted, the injunction would legally prevent the hunters from blockading the site.
Nunavut Justice Susan Cooper did not deliver an immediate ruling on the application, saying she needs some time to come to a decision. In the meantime, the temporary injunction ordered last week will stay in place.
February 12, 2021
Protestors leave Baffinland iron ore mine after shutting mine down for a week in Nunavut
Inuit protestors left the Baffinland iron ore mine in Mary River last night after shutting down the mine for a week by occupying their runway and access road. APTN’s Kent Driscoll joined us from our Iqaluit studio to explain
SEE VIDEO AT LINK TO ARTICLE
Nunavut hunters agree to end protest at iron ore mine after offer of meeting
Thu., February 11, 2021, 5:25 p.m
IQALUIT, Nunavut — Lawyers for Inuit hunters who blocked an airstrip and road at an iron ore mine in Nunavut say they will end their protest for now.
The blockade started a week ago after seven hunters travelled two days and over 150 kilometres by snowmobile to get to the Mary River mine site on Baffin Island. Several others joined them later.
The 12 hunters, who call themselves the Nuluujat Land Guardians, were protesting a proposal by Baffinland Iron Mines Corp., to double its output of iron ore and build a 110-kilometre railway.
The company said Monday that the blockade had forced it to halt operations.
On Wednesday, a Nunavut judge ordered the hunters to clear the airstrip so mine workers stuck at the site could fly home. Lawyers for the hunters argued the order was unnecessary as they were willing to work with Baffinland to allow employees to fly out.
The protest ended Wednesday night after the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, the regional Inuit organization that represents Inuit in the Baffin Island region, and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., the Nunavut land-claim body, offered the hunters a face-to-face meeting. The hunters accepted.
Baffinland is in the middle of environmental hearings on its proposal to double the mine's output of iron ore from six million to 12 million tonnes and build a 110-kilometre railway from the mine to the ocean for shipping. The railway would be the only one in Nunavut and the most northern one in Canada.
Some hunters and community members in the North Baffin region have said they are worried the company is moving too fast and not properly considering the effects an expansion would have on wildlife, including narwhal and caribou.
"Inuit do not seek confrontation and only take action when there is no other option to have their voices heard," said a news release from the group of hunters.
In a news release Thursday, Baffinland said the hunters had left the mine site and operations at the mine had resumed.
"This includes employee and contractor transfers, the resumption of food and supply flights, search-and-rescue flights, and other North Baffin air traffic support services provided using the Mary River airstrip," the release said.
The hunters planned to stay at a nearby cabin until at least Friday, then make the journey back to Pond Inlet, where they are to meet with local leaders.
The hunters said although they have left the mine site, their work is not over.
"The Guardians are committed to continuing action on the land unless they can see progress in proposed meetings. They are personally committed to protecting and preserving Inuit rights and relationships," Mary Naqitarvik, a spokeswoman for the hunters, said in a release.
Baffinland has filed an injunction application against the hunters, which is to be heard at the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit on Saturday. The company has not said whether it will proceed with its request. Lawyers representing the hunters said the hearing is still scheduled to go ahead.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 11, 2021
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship
Emma Tranter, The Canadian Press
Independent researcher, editor; Senior Fellow at the School of International Development and Globalisation Studies at the University of Ottawa
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