The Innu Nation says giant mining companies are “practically spying” on Native people in Voisey’s Bay to gain information for their environmental impact statement.

An impact review is required by the government before the $4.5-billion megamine can be developed.

Innu and Inuit people have been relegated to the sidelines in the mining companies’ scramble to mine Voisey’s Bay, an ancestral burial ground and sacred site.

Environmental consulting companies hired to do the impact statement have asked all staff at the mine site to submit weekly reports of any conversations with Innu or Inuit employees or community members where traditional ecological knowledge was discussed.

One of the companies involved was severely criticized in a recent federal environmental assessment of a diamond mine project in the Northwest Territories.

The company was accused of sidestepping the process of community-based traditional knowledge research.

“This attempt to gather Innu traditional knowledge is both Improper and unethical,” said Peter Penashue, president of the Innu Nation.

“The back-handed way that (the company) is approaching the issue is an insult to Innu people, especially to our Elders.”