Nunatsiavut government challenges premier on speech

Ashley Fitzpatrick
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Nunatsiavut President Sarah Leo says Premier Kathy Dunderdale’s words misleading on state of aboriginal partnerships. — File photo by Ashley Fitzpatrick/The Telegram

The day after the on-air announcement of sanction of the Muskrat Falls hydro megaproject, while the provincial government was briefing its political opposition on new energy legislation, the Government of Nunatsiavut was issuing a reminder of its position on the project.

In a statement, the aboriginal government representing Labrador Inuit noted concerns it raised recently about the project, with Nunatsiavut President Sarah Leo saying those concerns have been dismissed by the provincial government.

The statement quoted from Premier Kathy Dunderdale’s televised speech, wherein the premier referenced the project’s being able to progress because of “grand partnerships” achieved with Labrador’s aboriginal peoples.

“The premier left the impression the Nunatsiavut Government endorses Muskrat Falls, and indicated that we have been consulted on the project,” Leo stated. “That is simply not the case.”

The Nunatsiavut Government has collectively made note of rights established under the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement.

“The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador fails to accept our rights and titles, despite what the premier may want people of the province to believe,” Leo stated. “We fought long and hard to negotiate the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement. It’s very unfortunate the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is not prepared to honor the spirit of that Constitutionally-protected document.”

The statement made it clear the aboriginal government has not been satisfied with discussions on the project with the provincial government to date.

It also stated one of the stipulations for the federal loan guarantee for the Muskrat Falls project was aboriginal consultations be completed to the satisfaction of the federal government.

The Nunatsiavut Government have raised their concerns publicly on previous occasions. On Nov. 28, government members flew into St. John’s and held a press conference wherein the government outlined early results of a research and monitoring project on mercury in Lake Melville, downstream from Muskrat Falls.

"Given the clear lack of work done by Nalcor and the Newfoundland and Labrador government, we have approached both Nalcor and the Newfoundland and Labrador government to provide funding and resources to help with our program," said First Minister Darryl Shiwak.

"To date these requests have fallen on deaf ears." Nalcor Energy vice-president Gilbert Bennett responded at the time saying there was a difference of opinion between the company and the aboriginal government on both how far mercury release from the project might extend, and how monitoring should progress, specific to the project.

Bennett said Nalcor is still not expecting to see environmental effects far downstream of Muskrat Falls, reaching across Lake Melville and into the Labrador Inuit Settlement Area.

Organizations: Nalcor Energy

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Muskrat Falls, Lake Melville

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Recent comments

  • Concerned
    December 19, 2012 - 16:45

    The big issue here are the children who are sitting in the class rooms (K-13) now, it's their children who are the ones going to feel the effects of this blunder. Its their children that won't be going to dance, hockey, shopping, etc., because the government robbed them of that opportunity. As parents we should be demanding a referendum for our children and their futures. Shame on us.

  • sparky
    December 19, 2012 - 14:31

    "Reason number 768" Why Big Companies should & do stay away from NFLD.

  • rat lawyers
    December 19, 2012 - 14:26

    Jermone kenndey and dunderdale, along with ed martian are running this muskratfalls and government like a motorcycle gang. And obiviously will do anything at any cost to finish danny williams TO DO LIST when he left as premier.

  • Winston Adams
    December 19, 2012 - 14:23

    Ben , title depends on the occupation of the land and for how long. And one can take from another by war or treaty. Hitler preferred war. Britan used war and treaties. Much of canada was by taken by treaty, some not. Not by treaty nor war includes both the island of nfld and also Labrador. The Beothics held NFLD until i guess we committed genoscide against them. The aboriginals in Labrador survived, but continually suffered at the hands of our forefathers, and even from our present generation. And you think your title to parts of labrador is as good as the aboriginals? On what basis? You seem to lack much knowledge of history.

  • Ben
    December 19, 2012 - 13:09

    Another group looking for more money! They agreed with it all along until they decided to get more out of it. I still don't understand how any group owns any land more than anyone else! We all live here!!

  • Albert Webber
    December 19, 2012 - 12:41

    What more does Labradorian's need to know about this Government...? Proof is in the pudding.

  • Maurice E. Adams
    December 19, 2012 - 11:48

    Nothing todate has stood in the way of government usurping unto itself whatever authority it believes it needs and wants in order to impose this unneeded and unaffordable Muskrat Falls project on its own citizens........ It seems now that even signed agreements mean nothing...... It is not a day for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to feel proud, and I hope that the Nunatsiavut Government is able to assert its inherent rights and settle for nothing less than a good-faith and respectful relationship with government.