The Innu and Inuit of Labrador are staging a joint protest at the massive mining development at Voisey’s Bay.
Inuit are arriving from Nain to set up a protest camp, and more than 250 Innu from Davis Inlet and Sheshatshiu are heading over to join them.
“Development at the site has gone far enough. Inco is now building a road and an airstrip without Innu and Inuit consent,” said Katie Rich, president of the Innu Nation, which represents both Innu communities of Labrador. “Without our consent there will be no project.”
Talks with the company broke down recently after Inco refused to halt construction work on the project. The Innu and Inuit want work stopped until agreement is reached on an environmental assessment and a deal on compensation.
The Innu and Inuit have tried many means to halt the company’s construction plans, including an unsuccessful appeal to Newfoundland Supreme Court. An appeal of the Supreme Court decision will be heard soon, but the Innu believe the courts have already failed them.
“Each day they plow further ahead with the construction of the road, and by the time we will have our day in court, the road and the airstrip may be finished,” said Rich.
The Innu leader hoped the protest will remain peaceful. “This is about standing our ground, not having a stand-off. The company has never asked for our permission to be here, or asked for our consent for the mine,” Rich said.
“We have clearly outlined what our consent requires and it is up to them to respond to it. We have lived here for thousands of years and we plan to stay here for thousands more, but we don’t want to be living in the mess they will make here by rushing ahead. By standing together with the Labrador Inuit we are saying to Inco and Brian Tobin (Newfoundland’s premier) that we will not be bulldozed over on our own land.”