NunatuKavut council upset by preliminary work at Muskrat Falls

Ashley Fitzpatrick
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Aboriginal group questions whether or not work should be called ‘preliminary’

Having chartered a helicopter and flown over the area around Muskrat Falls, to view preliminary site work being completed for the Lower Churchill development, representatives from the NunatuKavut Community Council are crying foul over what they have seen.

The community council is accusing Nalcor Energy of doing too much, without both required approvals and a sanctioning of the project by the provincial government.

Speaking at a news conference at the council’s offices in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, NunatuKavut Community Council leader Todd Russell also accused the government and the project proponent of intentionally keeping the development work secret.

He pointed to a guarded security gate at an access road to the site. “We are denied entrance. Other members of the public are denied entrance,” Russell said.

He proceeded to go through a slideshow of images, suggesting the company has overstepped in its construction of access routes and preliminary site work.

Russell said the aboriginal rights of the people of the NunatuKavut land claim - yet to be accepted for negotiation by government - are being infringed upon, pointing to access to the site being denied to the council’s fishery guardians as an example.

“It is unbelievable that we would have to go to such extreme lengths to get information as to what is happening on our own lands,” Russell stated, referring to the helicopter charter, in a news release issued as the press conference was to get underway.

“We are locked out of the site, denied reports and our aboriginal fisheries guardians were barred from doing a site inspection. Government and Nalcor talk publicly about a project that is about to happen, little does anyone know that construction is proceeding at a very rapid pace behind these closed and guarded gates.”

A slideshow of the council’s aerial photos of Muskrat Falls project work, as taken by the NunatuKavut council, is to be made available at:

Nalcor Energy offered a look at the site work to reporters from media outlets throughout the province in August.

At that time, Lower Churchill lead Gilbert Bennett spoke about the work being completed to date:

The Muskrat Falls dam work has been released from environmental assessment. For more:

The NunatuKavut Community Council has previously voiced objection to that environmental review and to the project as a whole.

Earlier this week, the council set up a road “slow down” area, as opposed to a road block, along part of the Trans-Labrador Highway as a form of protest against the project.

“We are looking at our legal options,” Russell said, before also offering to sit down at a table with government.

“In terms of our on the ground action, I can only say to you it will probably become more intense and more direct.”

Organizations: NunatuKavut Community Council, Trans-Labrador Highway

Geographic location: Muskrat, Happy Valley

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Recent comments

  • Lonewolf
    October 03, 2012 - 20:44

    This land is Crown land and belongs to all the people and therefore they cannot be denied access, John Smith are you just another person who thinks the Government should be allowed to do whatever they want without the approval off the people and that the people should be kept away so that they can't see the crooked work of the Government?

  • Albert
    October 03, 2012 - 14:25

    Why does it matter who brings these allegations forward? The fact remains that there is work being done for a project that is not off the ground yet. Environmental protection procedures are not being followed, and the government is not providing any answers. If the only comments one can make over this situation belittle a particular ethnic group and not the merits of their findings... sad day for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

  • Charmaine Dredge
    October 02, 2012 - 23:16

    For those people who are talking about Todd Russell, I can say one least he is trying to 'HELP' his fellow Labradorians so that they can have their voices heard for once about this!! I don't live in Labrador but I do have family there and I am shocked of what the government is doing to it or wants to do it!! :( Labrador is a part of Newfoundland and it seems as if the NL Government is ignoring the aboriginal people of Labrador...MAKES ME SICK!!!!!!

  • Labrador for all Labradorians
    October 02, 2012 - 13:12

    Oh no not this silliness again! Russell saw that he couldn't make it as an MP in Ottawa so he comes back and tries to stir up trouble as leader of the Metis again. One can see that money is behind all this. My advice to the government,give all Labradorians the same thing, don't go branding them in groups. We all live here in Labrador and thus we should all own the land, no matter if our great, great, great, great, great grandparents walked the land years ago. That is too silly to talk about!

  • Fred
    October 02, 2012 - 11:40

    Todd Russell still trying to find something he is good at ? Sorry Todd its not gonna

  • John Smith
    October 02, 2012 - 11:29

    I thought they had to be recognized by the federal government first? Maybe when they are given official status they can get the free money they are looking for...untill then they should be arrested and locked up, like any trespasser.

    • FYET
      October 02, 2012 - 13:52

      If the attitude put forth on these boards by John Smith gives an accurate portrayal of the sentiment of our current Government towards the citizens of Newfoundland and Labrador, boy are we in trouble!!

  • Concerned
    October 02, 2012 - 11:20

    Keep up the work Russell, this government is just so blanten, they don't care about anything only Musk Rat Falls. They don't even care about the people in this province, I can't image what they think of you guys.