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The Council in solidarity with Inuk grandmother in jail for opposing Muskrat Falls dam

Beatrice Hunter

The Council of Canadians joins with the Nunatsiavut government (which represents an autonomous area claimed by the Inuit in northern Labrador), the NunatuKavut Community Council (which is the representative governing body for the Inuit in south and central Labrador) and the Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women in expressing solidarity with Beatrice Hunter.

APTN reports, “Hunter, an Inuk grandmother, was sent to a men’s penitentiary 1,000 kilometres to the south in St. John’s May 29 after refusing a judge’s request to stay at least one km away from the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric dam. Hunter was in court for breaking a previous court order stemming from an occupation of the controversial multi-billion dollar mega-project in Autumn.”

That article highlights, “The Muskrat Falls project has been facing fierce resistance from Labrador Inuit who say the flooding of the Lower Churchill River will cause the toxin methylmercury to be released into the land.”

CBC notes, “Her Majesty’s Penitentiary in St. John’s is not any kind of place to lock up a Labrador woman who was simply exercising her right to protest at the Muskrat Falls construction site, according to the president of the Nunatsiavut government.”

The Labradorian adds, “NunatuKavut Community Council (NCC) President Todd Russell issued a statement on June 5 condemning Beatrice Hunter being held at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary in St. John’s.”

And VOCM reports, “The Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women says it is concerned that Hunter has been moved so far away from her family, community and cultural supports, and is being held in a men’s prison. Co-Chair Jenny Wright is calling on Justice Minister Andrew Parsons to provide oversight and ‘safeguard the human rights’ of Beatrice Hunter during her incarceration and subsequent trial.”

The Council of Canadians has been raising concerns about the Muskrat Falls project since November 2012.

The project would see two large dams on the lower Churchill River in Labrador. The dams are being built on Innu territory, but the Inuit also claim part of the lands that would be affected by the project as their traditional territory.

In March, the RCMP announced 58 criminal charges against 27 mostly Indigenous land protectors who blockaded and then occupied the Muskrat Falls site in October 2016. Hunter was one of the land protectors arrested at that time.

Shortly after the RCMP announced the charges, the Council of Canadians St. John’s chapter supported a fundraiser to help with the legal costs of the defendants.

The Council of Canadians supports this petition that calls for:

1- the immediate release of Beatrice Hunter,

2- the dropping of all charges against Labrador Land Protectors and lifting of the anti-democratic injunction against land protectors brought by NALCOR Energy,

3- cancelling the Muskrat Falls hydro project because it is too dangerous in the short and long term, whether from catastrophic collapse of the North Spur (which is built on quick clay, which moves) or from methyl mercury poisoning.

#StopMuskratFalls #MakeMuskratRight