HAPPY VALLEY-GOOSE BAY, N.L. - A group of Labrador Land Protectors (LLP) staged a protest in front of Labrador MP Yvonne Jones office in Happy Valley-Goose Bay on Tuesday, Aug. 7.
LLP member Denise Cole read a statement the group had prepared for the MP.
“In 2016 at the ‘Rally in the Valley’ you made a commitment to work with Labradorians to ‘Make Muskrat Right’,” the statement read. “Today we again implore you to honour your promise to people downstream from the Muskrat Falls hydro dam.”
The statement cites the recommendations that came from the Independent Expert Advisory Committee (IEAC) on potential methylmercury impacts.
Those included clearing the topsoil and capping the wetlands in the reservoir, a security fund to compensate those impacted by methylmercury arising from the project, and an independent methylmercury advisory body.
The Innu Nation was one of the four groups represented on the committee but did not agree with the recommendations. The other groups were the Nunatsiavut Government, NunatuKavut Community Council and the affected municipalities, as well as representatives of the provincial and federal governments and Nalcor.
While those recommendations are under the purview of the provincial government, LLP says the federal government is accountable because they gave loan guarantees to the project and due to the federal governments adoption of UNDRIP, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Cole said they don’t expect a response from government to the statement, and haven’t received any response from their recent demonstrations.
“It’s ridiculous,” she said. “We shut that building (the office of Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs) down for three weeks, we were there for a month. They never once responded to an email, to a message, that’s not democracy.”
LLP shut down the government office last summer in July and August.
She said they don’t expect a response from government to the letter from the scholars either.
“They’re more worried about people on the island being upset with hydro rates than they are about our lives,” she said.
LLP has been opposing the project for some time, citing concerns that include methylmercury contamination and the stability of the North Spur dam.
Craig Chaulk, a member of LLP and a resident of Mud Lake who was at the demonstration at Jones’ office, said he doesn’t feel the government is listening either. He said how to get the government, and the people, to listen is the million dollar question.
“We have growing support in other parts of the country but the on the ground action here has slowed to a crawl,” he said. “There’s not a whole lot more we can do, we keep fighting behind the scenes, we haven’t gone away. The LLP are still here and we are still strong.”
Chaulk said they need action on the mitigation measures proposed by the IEAC and don’t know where the provincial government is on implementing them.
The Labradorian contacted the Department of the Environment for an update on the status of the recommendations but did not receive a response as of press time. See next week’s edition of The Labradorian for a further update.