Monday, December 13, 2010

First Nations rally against Lower Churchill dam

First Nations rally against Lower Churchill dam
'"Green" energy deal no benefit to us'

Posted by Bruce Wark on Fri, Dec 10, 2010 at 5:37 PM

About 100 members of an aboriginal group rallied outside provincial
government offices in Happy Valley � Goose Bay, Labrador today to
protest against plans to build a hydro-electric dam on the Lower
Churchill River. Some of the protesters, members of NunatuKavut,
formerly known as the Labrador M�tis Nation, drove several hundred
kilometres to protest in temperatures that dipped to -18 C with the
wind chill. They were expressing their opposition to a deal under
which Labradorians would lose a large section of one of the world�s
most beautiful, sacred and historic rivers while the power generated
at the Muskrat Falls dam would be shipped to Newfoundland, Nova Scotia
and possibly the US.

�We find it quite upsetting that everybody is celebrating green energy
but in order to make green energy, they�re flooding Labrador,� Chris
Montague, president of NunatuKavut told the Coast in a telephone
interview on Wednesday. �It�s been the same story with the Upper
Churchill,� he added. �They flooded an area nearly the size of the
Avalon Peninsula to bring green energy down into North America, so
nobody seems to care about Labrador. Nobody seems to care about us.�

Montague is especially angry that the $6.2 billion power deal was
announced with no notice to the 4,000 members of NunatuKavut. �We only
heard about this Muskrat Falls deal the day before on the news,� he
says. �No one in government called us about it until after the news

NunatuKavut and other aboriginal groups, including the Innu, still
have unsettled land claims. �We�re saying this is our territory. We�ve
always been here. This is our home,� Montague says. �Why are we being

Meantime, Montague insists the Muskrat Falls project will not go ahead
unless a compensation agreement is reached with NunatuKavut. The
Newfoundland government has concluded an agreement with the Innu, but
refuses to negotiate with NunatuKavut until the federal government
recognizes its land claim. Montague says the claim is based on a 1765
treaty with the British, two million dollars worth of independent
academic research and a Supreme Court ruling which says governments
have a duty to consult aboriginal communities about decisions that may
affect their rights.

�We want our opinion to be considered on whether or not this project
goes ahead,� Montague says, adding that a federal environmental
assessment is still not complete, nor have the required public
hearings been held.

�There�s a lot of people outraged by this,� Montague says, �by the
suddenness, by the exclusion.�

Tags: Lower Churchill project, NunatuKavut

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