NunatuKavut taking court action to block damming of Muskrat Falls

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Todd Russell. — File photo

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.

Organizations: NCC, Federal Court, Department of Fisheries and Oceans Hydro Quebec Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board

Geographic location: Grand River, Labrador, Churchill River Lake Melville

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Recent comments

  • EDfromRED
    July 25, 2013 - 22:16

    Muskrat Falls is nothing but a wasteful "Make Work Project" for NALCOR and the PC business cronies who want to milk millions/billions from us, and cover it up with Bill-29

  • Why
    July 25, 2013 - 21:57

    If this project is so good, why is it having so much trouble??

  • stephen
    July 25, 2013 - 17:38

    This will be of great benefit to all NL and Labradorians. Mr Russell has to justify what he gets paid for,doing nothing.

  • Gary
    July 25, 2013 - 15:32

    It's unfortunate that the Telegram is reprinting NunatuKavut's press release verbatim. NunatuKavut obviously feels it's in their best interest to assert their rights in the press, but they've never been recognized as an aboriginal group by any court or government, and reporting their claim to "Aboriginal rights and title and treaty rights" without comment or qualification legitimizes Russel's antics in a way that does a disservice to other Labradorians.

  • Eli
    July 25, 2013 - 14:08

    Do I get a message here the NunaKuvat community will "settle" if the price is right? Make that clear please Todd.

  • Tony Rockel
    July 25, 2013 - 11:41

    Yes, this project certainly is "on very unstable ground"--- both figuratively and literally, when you look at the instability of the entire North Spur. Despite all those glib assurances from NALCOR, the North Spur is a geological land mine, just waiting to be triggered by rising water levels of the kind you would get from damming the Lower Churchill.

    • kd
      July 25, 2013 - 19:43

      The last time I checked Mr Russell and his group are not aboriginal people and have no status according to the federal gov. My forefathers survived one hundred per cent from the land and sea that doesnt make us aboriginals just survivers and have no more rights than any others nlers