Inuit group upset over permit to build on archeological site

Josh Pennell
Published on June 16, 2014

The NunatuKavut Community Council (NCC) is upset that a permit has been granted to Bay Bulls Properties/Pennecon to develop a site of archeological importance to the Inuit people.

NunatuKavut is an aboriginal organization representing more than 5,000 southern Inuit in Labrador. The site is located at Crow Head near Forteau and has been used almost exclusively by the Inuit of NunatuKavut for centuries, according the NCC.

A permit has been granted for Bay Bulls Properties/Pennecon to develop a road and a marine base structure in the area.

“It’s hugely disrespectful that you would destroy where our ancestors have lived and utilized the land,” says NunatuKavut president Todd Russell. “What’s the legacy left? Our past is going to be compromised or destroyed.”

The site was identified as an archeological site by the province about 10 years ago, Russell says, but no extensive work has been done there.

He says it’s known that there is a stone fox trap, bird blind and tent hooks in the area, but there could be even more archeologically important material.

Development, instead of preservation, of such an area is merely for short-term gain, says Russell.

“It’s a very, very unfortunate situation that the government has put us in and it’s an unfortunate one for the Inuit people,” he says. “The story of Labrador’s history is still being told. We fight all the time with government. We say we have always been here. This is our home. The government says, ‘prove it.’ Archeological work is one way you prove it.”

It’s the understanding of the NCC that the provincial government does have a plan for any artifacts found in the area, such as the stone fox trap.

“They say they’re going to take it down and reconstruct it, but we all know once things are moved they’re not the same,” says Russell. “It reminds me of many decades ago when early explorers, anthropologists or archeologists came and took people’s bones and put them in institutions.”

Russell says they plan to appeal to the government.

The Telegram contacted the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation for response, but none was given by deadline.