How industry, Indigenous nations and provincial leaders forged a consensus in Labrador – by Jacques Poitras (CBC News New Brunswick – December 9, 2021)

Former premier, Innu and Inuit officials say negotiating a deal is better than legal showdown

As the New Brunswick government and the Wolastoqey Nation prepare for what could be a decade-long legal battle over Aboriginal title, an alternative approach is continuing to unfold on the eastern edge of Atlantic Canada.

In Labrador this week, the owners of the Voisey’s Bay nickel mine have halted marine shipping to and from the mine, just as they do every year on Dec. 6. It’s part of an agreement to minimize the breaking up of winter ice by ships so that Inuit and Innu hunters can cross that ice to harvest in their traditional territories.

Two decades ago, “the issue threatened to be a deal breaker,” said a 2008 presentation by two officials with Vale Inco, the mine owner. But the Inuit and the Innu people, already deep into land claim negotiations with the government of Newfoundland and Labrador, agreed to set up a working group with the company.

“Over a number of years this group established trust and common understanding between the parties on the issue of both open water and winter shipping,” Vale Inco said in 2008. Now the company halts shipping periodically through the winter to let the water freeze over again so it can be used by the Inuit and the Innu.

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