Mary River mine blockade highlights Nunavut Agreement’s fatal flaw – by Jim Bell (Nunatsiaq News – February 12, 2021)


The land claim agreement empowers Inuit organizations — and disempowers Inuit communities

All of us who care about Nunavut will be relieved that the protesters who occupied the Mary River mine’s airstrip and tote road for most of this past week have decided to end their blockade. Because in doing so, they’ve avoided a potentially ugly confrontation.

The protesters, who call themselves the Nuluujaat Land Guardians, blockaded Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.’s mine on north Baffin over this past week to oppose its proposed expansion, and to protest the Qikiqtani Inuit Association’s role in the process.

The expansion, which is still before a public hearing, would double the mine’s output and see a 110-kilometre railway combined with up to 176 ship-transits through the environmentally sensitive waters of Eclipse Sound.

Late Feb. 11, Justice Susan Charlesworth signed an interim injunction in the Nunavut Court of Justice that authorized the RCMP — if necessary — to remove and detain anyone who continues to obstruct access to the Mary River mine.

So we owe a debt of gratitude to Pond Inlet Mayor Joshua Arreak, who proposed a face-saving option that lets the protesters abandon their blockade without having to admit defeat: a future meeting with officials from QIA and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.

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