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Groups call for Muskrat Falls land and water defenders to be released

(Halifax) – The Council of Canadians, Sierra Club of Canada, Solidarity Halifax, and individual treaty rights holders held a press conference today to condemn the Muskrat Falls hydro dam project, and to call for the release of three Inuit Elders who were arrested last week.

Marjorie Flowers, Jim Learning, and Eldred Davis were arrested at the gates of the government-supported hydro dam for trying to prevent their water from being polluted with methylmercury, which would threaten the health of current and future generations of people, including Inuit, Innu, and Métis in Labrador. Elder Beatrice Hunter was also arrested in June, and taken to Her Majesty’s Penitentiary in St. John’s, 1500km away from her home.

“Water is life. She is our life source. Without water, all life will cease to exist,” says Michelle Paul, a Mi’kmaq treaty rights holder. “Through the poisoning of water at Muskrat Falls, the people in Labrador are facing genocide today. There is no time for negotiations. Legalized killing by crown corporation Nalcor must be stopped now.”

“The use of the power of the Canadian state and resources of a crown corporation to silence the concerns and questions of these three elders demonstrates the ongoing capitalist phase of aggressive use of land and development without proper consultation or respect for Indigenous peoples,” says Jackie Barkley from Solidarity Halifax. “We share the outrage at the colonial treatment and arrest of these three Inuit elders. We call for their immediate release, and for all the demands they are putting forward.”

“We have been there since the very beginning, and from the start we were concerned about the lack of due diligence performed by Nalcor,” says Gretchen Fitzgerald from the Sierra Club of Canada Foundation. “The environmental assessment panel concluded that Nalcor had not demonstrated the justification of the project on energy and economic terms. Since then, the cost of the project has absolutely ballooned from $6 billion to over $12 billion. We need our governments to do what they should have been doing since the beginning – genuinely listening to the people who will be impacted by this project.”

“Nova Scotians should be aware of our involvement in the Muskrat Falls dam,” says Angela Giles from the Council of Canadians. “The Maritime Link subsea transmission cable would connect the power generated at Muskrat Falls to Nova Scotia, and makes the entire project possible by connecting Labrador to an export market. The Link is supported by Emera, the parent company of Nova Scotia Power. We have a responsibility to push Emera, and our government, to put people before private profit.”

Speakers supported Labrador Land Defenders’ demands, which can be found here.

No one should have to be in fear of being poisoned, drowned, or having their culture threatened. The Indigenous people of Labrador have the right to protect the land, water, and next generations.


Contact: Angela Giles, (902) 478-5727