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St. John’s chapter supports fundraiser for land defenders arrested in Labrador and Standing Rock

The Council of Canadians St. John’s chapter is supporting a fundraiser for land protectors arrested in Labrador and Standing Rock.

VOCM reports, “A fundraiser for the protesters at Standing Rock and Muskrat Falls is going ahead at Eastern Edge Art Gallery today [April 2]. From Standing Rock to NL: Towards a better energy future is being organized by Eastern Edge Art Gallery, the Council of Canadians, and the Social Justice Co-op. There will be a screening of the documentary film Pipe Dreams which is being followed by a session where activists will discuss different ways people can take action. All the proceeds raised will go towards the legal funds for the protectors at Standing Rock and in Labrador.”

The Facebook promotion notes, “As resistance to mega-energy is growing across the U.S. and Canada, many of us here in St. John’s want to support these efforts and work towards better solutions, but wonder where do we start? What can we do in the midst of our hectic-feeling lives? This session is being held to help us get our hearts and minds around exactly that. Big thanks to Iwerks Productions and Eastern Edge Art Gallery for their (in)kind support, and to the Council of Canadians – St. John’s and the Social Justice Co-op for their collaboration and mentorship.”

The Muskrat Falls hydro-electric dam 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 2012, the federal government removed federal oversight of the Churchill River in their Navigation Protection Act.

The Independent has reported, “[In March], the RCMP announced 58 criminal charges against 27 mostly Indigenous land protectors who blockaded and then occupied the Muskrat Falls site in Central Labrador. …Mi’kmaw lawyer and Ryerson University’s Associate Professor and Chair in Indigenous Governance Dr. Pam Palmater told The Independent that the criminalization of Indigenous Peoples protesting as a form of self-defence is becoming ‘more and more prevalent’ in Canada despite the fact the protests themselves are an effort to guard constitutionally-protected rights.”

Nearly 800 people were arrested in North Dakota in peaceful actions trying to stop the Dakota Access pipeline, which would carry up to 570,000 barrels per day of fracked oil from North Dakota to Illinois. It would cross 200 waterways, including the Missouri River, which is upstream of Lake Oahe, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s main source of drinking water, and the Mississippi River.

In addition, the Grand Riverkeeper and the Labrador Land Protectors have now sent a letter to Premier Dwight Ball highlighting that the Muskrat Falls dam project threatens the culture and way of life of Innu and Inuit people in Labrador.

Last week, Council of Canadians organizer Angela Giles sent a letter to Premier Wall that states, “The Council of Canadians stands in solidarity with the Labrador Land Protectors and the Grand Riverkeeper in their letter dated March 23rd 2017, highlighting concerns with the North Spur aspect of Muskrat Falls, and their call for a complete and independent review of this project. We expect that this review will be transparent, inclusive, and timely, and that all construction of this mega-project be on hold until the review is complete. We trust that you respect the gravity of this situation, and will immediately take the needed steps to complete an independent review of this project.”

A poll released in mid-January by Corporate Research Associates found that 48 per cent of residents in Newfoundland and Labrador are completely or mostly against Muskrat Falls, while 45 per cent of residents either completely or mostly support the project (down from 63 per cent support in February 2013).

Given the original cost of the dam was to be $6.2 billion, a cost that has now risen to $11.7 billion with two-years still to go before the dam is to be operational, this mega-project boondoggle both violates Indigenous rights and diverts capital that would be better spent on wind power and renewable energy initiatives.

#StopMuskratFalls #StandWithStandingRock