NunatuKavut injunction denied

Dave Bartlett
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Appeal unlikely, Montague says

NunatuKavut wanted an injunction against environmental hearings on the Muskrat Falls project, but its application was denied this week by the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador. — File photo by Troy Turner/The Western Star

The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador has denied Nunatu-Kavut’s application for an injunction against environmental hearings on the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric development.

According to court documents, NunatuKavut — formerly known as the Labrador Metis Nation — filed the injunction because it believed the federal and provincial governments “breached their duty to consult with NunatuKavut” and asked the court to force the province to negotiate an impact benefits agreement with it, as the province did with the Labrador Innu.

Land claim not yet recognized by province or Ottawa

NunatuKavut wanted environmental assessment panel hearings — currently underway — stopped until the other matters were dealt with.

But neither the province nor Ottawa have recognized NunatuKavut’s land claim — at least not yet.

The province has said if Ottawa does recognize a land claim later, it would have to negotiate a benefits agreement.

NunatuKavut president Chris Montague told The Telegram Friday he had high expectations when the case began.

But he said after the case was passed from one judge, to another to a third, his optimism diminished.

“It began to raise eyebrows when they brought in a judge from Grand Bank to actually hear the case,” Montague said.

Justice Garrett Handrigan was the Grand Bank judge who heard each side’s arguments.

Montague went on to say he doesn’t see the denial of the application as being too disappointing.

“It (makes) our path more clear, I guess, in the sense we know what to expect now from the courts and from Nalcor, from this whole process,” he said. “I think it will help us make some very clear decisions.”

Montague said the next step is to meet with his advisers, staff, board and consultants to plot a course forward.

He said it’s possible he may put the issue to a vote of the NunatuKavut membership.

“We have to gauge how the people are feeling about this project and I think the events here will move the people in a more clear direction,” Montague said.

When asked if NunatuKavut would appeal the decision, he said it would be unlikely as the hearings are ongoing and would likely be over by the time the case went back to court.

“But then again, that’s a decision that has to be made because there’s so many flaws in this judgement,” said Montague.

Organizations: Supreme Court, Grand Bank

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Ottawa

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Recent comments

  • urknotinuk
    March 30, 2011 - 06:43

    Im glad the case got rejected. The so called Metis nation statted out with Innu heritage then claiming Inuit heritage. Make up your minds people, its starting to look redicilious. If you wanna be Inuit, try your case with the true Inuit, NUNATSIAVUT. It seems if you live in Labrador and dont belong to one of the true aboriginal groups (Innu & Inuit) then you qualify for Metis. The Metis is starting to make a fool of themselves. Stop trying to claim aboriginal rights and land ownership, if it happens its an injustice to the true land owners, the INNU. They metis (who have been here for so many years) say they should get just as much land rights as Innu who have been here for thousands of years -- Going on this theory, overseas workers now in Goose Bay have been here for a year or more, now should be able to claim about a km square of land. Im sure the Metis will understand, they are doing the same thing!

  • Charles Martin
    March 28, 2011 - 22:33

    Judge #1 seemed to start out fair...then three Judges were shuffled about and...low and behold the Provincial Government's very own position stands firm. Seems questionable. Perhaps the rationales for the musical judges should be publicized. Or is that something else the public can't be privy too? Charles Martin

  • Bill
    March 26, 2011 - 17:28

    It is funny to read Chris Montague talk about going to his members!! This group cannot get its members list straight let alone try to get claims to any land. People in the area have received letters saying they were "Metis", only to hear later that no, you don't qualify now. Maybe the Metis(NunatuKavut) need to get their organization together before they start demanding things from the government. When Todd Russel was President i always had some respect for this group but with the leadership that is there now, they are hopeless. PS...and who had the bright idea to change the name of this group? The Metis title was just fine!! And we all own the land, no one group should be entitled to it. Just because someone hunted and fished in an area doesn't mean they own the land.

    • Brian
      March 28, 2011 - 03:57

      1. So your respect for the people is based upon their political leadership? 2. The Community council is a young political organization by any standard. There have been challenges, but the organization has made very many improvements is the registrar system, relative accuracy of records, verification, etc. 3. "metis" is a somewhat undefined term. Many associate it with the metis nation who are a distinct culture formed from the intermarriage between first nations(indians) and european settlers. NunatuKavummiut (People from NunatuKavut) are decended from the Inuit who occupied southern Labrador. In southern Labrador some european young men, who came with virtually nothing, married inuk women, had children, and permanently assimilated into the culture. The culture adapted from prolonged contact but still remains distinctly Inuit. 4. No one is trying to annex land here! Sharing has always been a core value in southern Labrador. What the Council is seeking on behalf od the members is recognition, inclusion, and compensation. and because I know someone will bring it up; Money is means, not an end. It would be reckless to accuse any group seeking financial compensation or any funding for that matter, of "only caring about money" without examining their Motives, and legitimate assertions.

    • Frank
      March 28, 2011 - 09:06

      The ignorance and prejudice exhibited by us so called "Canadians" is absolutely appalling. Perhaps, just to clear up a little ignorance, let me turn to the Aboriginal Rights of Land as outlined in the Canadian Constitution Act of 1982. 35. (1) The existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed. (2) In this Act, "aboriginal peoples of Canada" includes the Indian, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada. For those of you unaware, in Canada there are two existing rights of aboriginal people when in comes to land. 1. Treaty Rights, which are specific rights to the land and resources as recognized in the treaty. 2. Aboriginal Rights, which are the practices, traditions and customs that distinguish a long-standing use and occupancy of the land. All you continuously hear from the narrow minded people, who know little to nothing about Labrador, is how the NunatuKavut are just looking for their branch off the money tree. But perhaps to brush away a little prejudice from this group, all one has to do is open a book on Labrador history. If diversity is the cure for racism, one will find great irony in the fact that a large portion of Labrador history is based on early European settlers who married into Inuit and Innu families, producing a distinctly Metis generation. The Metis people assimilated the Aboriginal mother's traditions, practices and livelihood, while retaining a European father's language, religion and technology. The NunatuKavut, like their Inuit and Innu grandparents, trapped and hunted along the Churchill River. It is an undeniable fact that the People of Labrador once meaningful depended on the resources provided both directly and indirectly by the Churchill River. The NunatuKavummuit, as with other Aboriginal groups in Labrador, shared the abundant resources of the Churchill River, as was their Aboriginal Right. Yet today, when the NunatuKavut show concern towards a river that was once integral to their existence, they are rejected and ignored by the provincial and federal government who established a constitution to protect them.