A Defense Department study that okayed low-level military flights over Nitassinan is seriously flawed, says a coalition of aboriginal organizations that reviewed the study.
The study has 130 different flaws, say the Innu Nation, the Conseil Atika-mekw-Montagnais and the Naskapi First Nation in their review, released July 28.
Innu spokesman Daniel Ashini said many parts of the Defense Department’s study are not just bad science—they are deceitful. He charged that the government deliberately deleted mention of certain military practices because they would have delayed public hearings into the environmental impact of the low-level flights.
Fighters and bombers from Canada, Germany and Britain have been using Nitassinan to train for low-level ground-attack missions for 14 years. The Ministry of Defense released its environmental impact study in April. It said the flights could continue and won’t damage local wildlife or the environment.
But the Innu people disagree, saying little research has been conducted into the effects of the flights. Their report expresses particular concern about the effects on the Red Wine Caribou herd, black ducks, peregrine falcons and Harlequin ducks.
The Innu would like to create outfitting camps and do adventure tourism in the area. But the Defense Department and Newfoundland government discourage these activities because it would take away airspace from the military flights.