(Mani-Utenam/Sept-Íles, Québec) Despite recent statements by Labrador Iron Mines (LIM) and the approval of its operating permits by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, there are several outstanding issues to be resolved between the company and the Innu of Uashat mak Mani-Utenam (ITUM). In fact, ITUM has a court case pending in Newfoundland & Labrador challenging the company's permits, based on the failure of the Crown to duly consult & accommodate the Innu.
LIM's September 3 statement, “LIM Reaches Agreement With Quebec Innu,” reports on an agreement with the Innu Matimekush Lac John (Schefferville) and mentions that the Innu Takuaikan Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam (Sept-Iles) had also been involved in negotiations with the company without disclosing the fact that those negotiations have not yet produced any concrete results, nor the fact that ITUM has initiated legal action in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador (Trial Division) against the government of Newfoundland and Labrador for failing to consult the Uashaunnuat and reasonably accommodate their interests as required under the Constitution, and asking for LIM's licences to be quashed.
The many meetings the Uashaunnuat have had with LIM have not led to a satisfactory resolution of their concerns about the negative impact of the mining project on their traditional territories. “ITUM leadership wish to make it clear to the public and especially LIM shareholders and investors that there is no agreement in place between the company and the Uashaunnuat, and there is unlikely to be one unless the company and the government fully respect our rights,” said Innu Chief George-Ernest Gregoire.
The Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC) caused serious and permanent damage to the traditional lands of the Uashaunnuat, and these damages were never repaired. The LIM iron ore project stands to create the same impacts as other mining projects have had in the region.
ITUM is very concerned that the LIM project will cause harm to the waters, wildlife, plants, and other natural resources in the territory. Among other things, the Innu believe that the project will have adverse impacts on caribou migration to the area resulting from mining, explosions, and ore transport on the spur line. It will also open up the area to further mining, including the New Millenium Corp. project which also has not been approved by the Uashaunnat, inviting an influx of non-Innu people and non-Innu businesses to the detriment of Innu workers and businesses. Most importantly, the LIM project will contribute to the alteration or destruction of sites that are of cultural or spiritual significance for the Innu.
“I fear that the history of Innu communities suffering hardship and damage due to these mining projects will repeat itself again with the LIM project,” said Rosario Pinette, Lead Negotiator for the Uashaunnuat.
“I deplore the publication of LIM's statement on the state of our discussions with the Company,” added Chief Gregoire. “Labrador Iron Mines should have respected rights the rights of the Uashaunnuat in our own territory and pressed the Crown to fulfil its obligations, instead of trying to step over us, meanwhile assuring the public and the stakeholders that everything is under control.”
Contact: Kateri Jourdain
Communications Director, Innu Takuaikan Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam (ITUM)
Tel: (418) 961-8586