The NunatuKavut Community Council (NCC) unanimously approved a motion Wednesday to begin legal action against the damming of Muskrat Falls in Labrador.
NunatuKavut will file a Judicial review application in Federal Court targeting the Department of Fisheries and Oceans decision to issue an authorization to Nalcor in relation to the construction of the Muskrat Falls Reservoir component of the Lower Churchill Hydroelectric Generation Project.
The community council was notified of the authorization on July 11. It argues the permit was issued without proper consultation and accommodation of the NCC.
The permit will allow for the actual damming of the Churchill River, locally known as the Grand River. The NCC claims that will cause significant and permanent damage to the environment and NCC members’ way of life, including the fisheries in the Grand River and Lake Melville.
“Our concerns about the Muskrat Falls project are well known,” Todd Russell, president of the NCC said in a news release. “We have continually expressed our concern over the wanton destruction of our Lands and waters without regard for our people’s Aboriginal rights and title and treaty rights.”
Russell said the NCC has continued to warn government that it cannot “thwart the law when it comes to effective consultation and accommodation with Aboriginal peoples.” He said the NCC has the right to defend its interests and will do just that.
If successful, the NCC says its legal action has the potential to deal a heavy blow to the Lower Churchill Hydro project.
“Combined with court action from Hydro Quebec and the conditions imposed by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board regarding the Maritime Link, we have a project that is on very unstable ground,” said Russell.
This is the first time NCC has initiated legal action that specifically focuses on the Lower Churchill dam project.