Baffinland gets court order allowing access to Mary River airstrip

Judge orders protesters to let employees on site to return home

Inuit protesters from Arctic Bay and Pond Inlet set up blockades at Baffinland Iron Mine Corp.’s Mary River mine on Thursday, Feb. 4. Baffinland included this image to support its application for a court injunction to end the blockade of the airstrip. (Photo from Nunavut Court of Justice)

By Nunatsiaq News

A judge has ordered protesters blockading the airstrip and road to Baffinland’s Mary River iron mine to allow employees to leave.

Justice Susan Cooper made the order Wednesday morning before a mostly full Nunavut Court of Justice courtroom in Iqaluit.

“The order is to facilitate the transportation of the employees who are currently on the site so that they can leave and go home,” she said.

Baffinland lawyer Brad Armstrong submitted an application for an injunction on Tuesday after the company issued a news release stating it was considering all options to end the airstrip blockade, which continued for its seventh day on Wednesday.

On Feb. 4, a group of seven hunters from Arctic Bay and Pond Inlet arrived at the mine site and shut down the airstrip and road that leads to Milne Inlet, in protest of a proposed expansion of the mine that would double its output.

The company has said there are more than 700 employees at the mine site and the blockades are preventing supplies from coming in and employees from leaving.

Lori Idlout, a lawyer representing the protesters, says that they have not been preventing medevacs from arriving or employees from departing.

“We don’t think that an order is necessary,” she said.

She also added the protesters are willing to allow flights in and out one day per week as well as maintenance of the airfield.

The parties will return to court on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. in Iqaluit.

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(34) Comments:

  1. Posted by Nuliayuk on

    Proud of you Lori, keep it up.

  2. Posted by John K on

    These “protesters” are NOT simply allowing medivacs through. They told BMIC that they would allow medivacs through only after Baffinland provides them with private information and the medical status of the person being evacuated.

    Since they want money and are armed I can’t see how this isn’t a hostage taking. I’m just glad Baffinland stopped feeding them once they realized the extremists had no intention of acting in good faith.

    • Posted by june on

      look into a bigger picture, Arb n pond dont want the money, they are trying to save the land the terrestrial our sea animal and inuit culture.

      • Posted by What’s the goal? on

        But where is the evidence of this? People keep repeating this idea that they are protesting to show their general frustration with BIMC, and the NIRB process – when as far as I can tell from their statements, quotes, and news coverage is that Inuaraq and co, seem to be quite happy for the Project to proceed, provided they get a North Baffin DIO and control the flow of funds. This is not the same goal as advocating for the protection of the land, the health of which is the birthright of all Inuit (and obviously worth protecting!).

        I’m not sure I understand how people are conflating very real (and absolutely justifiable) frustration with a process that sidelines Inuit voices and concerns, with the idea that one unelected dude thinks he can negotiate a better IIBA? What am I missing?

  3. Posted by Alternate Reality on

    “She also added the protesters are willing to allow flights in and out one day per week as well as maintenance of the airfield.”

    Lori doesn’t seem to understand, or more likely is willfully ignoring the fact, that the right “allow” anything on that airfield does not belong to these protestors at all.

    • Posted by Tulugak on

      Of course not, it belongs to the colonial authorities that devolved it to multinational corporations. Nunavut the land of Inuit?

      • Posted by iWonder on

        This is an interesting point, Tulugak. I wonder if you are of a mind that the practice of leasing land should be prohibited, or that it is at least deeply flawed?

        I agree it seems difficult to navigate the tension between collective ownership and economic development in the modern context, which is to say, in an underdeveloped region such as ours migration of labour and capital are necessities, not options.

        Given that, it seems someone must assume the role of speaking for Inuit, and while a democratic process for choosing who that will be appears fair, we all know that democratic processes do not always yield consensus, nor do they always reflect majority opinion.

        Perhaps there are better alternative?

        As I see it a difficulty with notions of collective ownership is that when saying something belongs to “all people” in practice, nothing does. Or, to frame it a little differently, ‘collective ownership is a phrase that appears far too vague to be meaningful.

        Sincerely curious what you think?

        • Posted by Glen Coulthard on

          Is collective ownership the only alternative? Why is it about “ownership” at all? What’s wrong with no one ‘owning’ the land? Maybe there are ways of relating to the land, other than “ownership” (whether collective or otherwise)? Maybe it’s not about democracy/recognition/representation, but sovereignty. Current Inuit political organizations are still forced to operate within – and in ways function as extensions of – the Canadian state. And a lot of people who work in the GN, QIA and NTI are not Inuit. If you want maybe you could read Glen Coulthard, for one, if you haven’t already:

          “The relationship between Indigenous peoples and the Canadian state has changed over 40 years. During this period we have witnessed the directly coercive rule of the last two centuries morph into more indirect rule that imposes political, economic and psychological structures that maintain ongoing appropriation of Indigenous peoples’ lands and resources. Settler colonization is still about maintaining access to our land; it’s just carried out slightly differently now. The politics of recognition, such as land negotiations and offering us certain cultural rights, are the contemporary tools designed to continue Indigenous dispossession. The tactics of land negotiations emerged specifically to reproduce state interests and accumulate capital, not to work against these forces – as Indigenous peoples had hoped. The negotiations of land claims function to domesticate Indigenous claims within the colonial framework of Canadian sovereignty and its structural drive toward settlement and capitalist accumulation based off resource extraction. The formal powers delegated to Indigenous communities through self-government processes are limited in ways that make it very difficult to stop certain forms of development on our territories.” — Glen Coulthard

          • Posted by iWonder on

            The idea of sovereignty is a valid one and describes an important feature of ownership, but in practice is it preferable term to ‘ownership’? As the majority of the Baffinland Mine site is, as I understand it, situated on land that the NLCA refers to as Inuit owned can we so easily dismiss it? Again, sovereignty is a meaningful concept, but your proposal to replace ‘ownership’ with it seems like an exercise in semantics, more than a useful distinction to help us navigate these issues.

            As for Couthard’s points, I would ask, in light of such a damning claim, that we analyze the mechanics of dispossession a little closer. It is not hard to make sweeping claims about broad issues, we see that all the time in our politics and it can have an allure if it appeals to our biases. This is not to say critiques like this aren’t valid or true, only that it is easy to say “we are still being screwed by more subtle processes.” But we should also ask, tell us how? To be fair, maybe he has done that in his work. I don’t know.

  4. Posted by concern man on

    OMG she representing non dio group of QUK. Did they pay up first for lawyer or free service they getting?

  5. Posted by Nonsense on

    Still non sense talkers going at it on the comments section. The truth is brought to light by land defenders yet the staff of Bim keeps trying to manipulate the truth! Just shows how Bim works in in the region.

    • Posted by Future Residents on

      You say ‘land defender’, I say future resident of BCC. Only time will tell.

    • Posted by Who has the best Propaganda? on

      Don’t worry, Nonsense… in the end I am sure your ‘land defender’ narrative will get plenty of traction, regardless of the the apparent realities before us today–a regional DIO and hands in the cookie jar. I can only imagine the Iqaluit arts scene brimming with excitement at the possibilities of their next polemic film.

  6. Posted by Armed? on

    It’s not clear from reading the reports if the protesters are armed or not. Off course armed protesters would be breaking the law, and a threat to life. If that’s the case it needs immediate intervention by the authorities, no ands, ifs or buts. But I’m not seeing any news reports saying they are armed. Only indications of armed comes from a few comments on this site, which is not always a reliable few words.

    • Posted by Firearms on

      They have firearms but they won’t be using their firearms to hurt anyone or use them as their protest. They have firearms for their safety of polar bears and they were hunting on their way down. It took them 2 days to go down there.

      • Posted by Northernee on

        So that means they are armed. You can’t have it both ways. These are armed protesters which is looking more and more like a hostage situation than a peaceful protest.

        This will not end well for those hunters. I would imagine the RCMP may very well arrest them once this is over regardless

        • Posted by Firearm on

          Let me remind you again, they didn’t bring their firearms as part of the protest. They brought their firearms because they knew they will need their firearms for their long 2 day trip. Can you imagine how long of a distance that is? That is 160 kms one way. They hunted caribou on their way down. What did they use? Rifles to shoot them. Once you are a Nunavut beneficiary, you can hunt where ever you want, when ever you want and how ever you want. So that means, those guys are on their land and they can hunt there. According to the land claims agreement.

  7. Posted by What. on

    “Lori Idlout, a lawyer representing the protesters, says that they have not been preventing medevacs from arriving or employees from departing.”

    Well, Ms. Idlout, in order of employees to leave, planes need to be allowed to land on the airstrip. If there are no planes allowed to land, employees cannot leave. So, your statement is 100% incorrect.

  8. Posted by just an inuk on

    It’s about time Inuit are protesting the mines! When Mine representatives come into the community to consult , they say it will not have an impact on the “land” the “animals” total lie!
    Community members voice out at these community consultation meetings but they never listen and go ahead do their exploration and mining!

    Nunavut Impact Review Board is a B.S. they go ahead and give the mines and exploration companies the go ahead, it’s all about money for them.

    Good job Arctic Bay and Pond Inlet for standing for our rights! And the rest of the communities joining in.

    GN, environment Minister step up, stop working behind the scenes!
    Stop giving out permits to explore or mine in Nunavut, as a inuk I would not be able get a permit to do this in the south!

    Keep it up Lori, your doing good.

    • Posted by really? on

      so stop creating jobs for inuit so that they can afford to go out and hunt? to buy bullets and food and fuel? where will the money come from? is everyone gonna work at either the northern or co-op? why as an inuk wouldnt you be allowed? you get the proper permits yea you could go down and get a exploratory permit if you wanted, just so happens Nunavut is apart of the canadian shield and is rich in minerals, kinda hard to afford to hunt if no one has jobs

      • Posted by easier on

        hunting has been made easier with industry, boats, hondas, snowmobiles, rifles, trucks … list goes on

      • Posted by Inuk Hunter on

        What are they going to hunt in the future when the mine keeps contaminating the Flora and Fauna?

  9. Posted by Northern Inuit on

    at the end of the day, it comes down to royalties.

    seems like this newly formed D.I.O is acting like the relative who just found out their Cousins Cousins Uncle won a Lotto Max Jackpot and is just itching to ask for their entitled share cause they are family.

  10. Posted by Qavvigarjuk on

    The protesters have firearms like anyone else should while camping or travelling on the land. Not because they are actively hunting bears, but to use them in self defense if an aggressive bear comes into their camp to deter it or kill it if need be in defense of life and property as it is allowed by law. No one should spend time out on the land without being armed. Nunavut is bear country folks.

    • Posted by Northerner on

      So they are armed protesters? You can’t have it both ways. Regardless of where you are. You are either armed or not lol

    • Posted by No 2nd in Canads on

      Most will agree with the possession of firearms in bear country, especially polar bear country, however firearms should never be present at a protest. I hope that any rifles were stowed away during these blockades and kept out of sight as they can be intimidating and prevent communication. The presence of firearms would also create a completely different legal scenario other than a protest. Given that the protesters have a lawyer, I’m hopeful that they are aware of this.

  11. Posted by Nothing but time? on

    “The parties will return to court on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. in Iqaluit.”
    This has gone on long enough, people are running out of medication and food. Deal with the urgent situation at hand PLEASE!

  12. Posted by Thanks on

    Wow, one flight a week? Really. We usually have a minimum of 4, and separate ones for the pilot change overs. How are 700 people supposed to switchover with one flight. Some of us don’t get paid to sit around at home and would really like to go to work already. Go direct this bs to the people who have control not the workers just trying to make a living.

    • Posted by Northerner on

      I am guessing RCMP will be present on that flight and likely will have some stationned on site at all times going forward for security

  13. Posted by Baffiled land on

    It is always so urgent… we need medication and food, we are losing money, the price of ore dropped so we need an emergency plan to take it out of Milne, now we need an emergency plan to double that!…

    Let’s take a breath and face the facts. The mine was only approved with a RR to Steensby at the South end of the Island. Everyone signed up for that, and everyone knew it was never going to work out of Milne. Just build what you said you were going to build and regain trust.

  14. Posted by John on

    The protest is happening on Inuit owned land, legally leased to the company by the QIA. The QIA should be the one in court demanding that the protesters leave. I can’t believe the company is the one having to go to court and not the QIA. If I was renting a house and I found the landlord’s brother camping out in my bathroom and I told the landlord to do something about it and he just shrugged his shoulders and said “Family… what you going to do?”… well I sure as heck wouldn’t be paying him the rent. Neither should Baffinland. Maybe that will get the QIA off their buts and resolving this issue. Either it is their land to lease or it isn’t. If it is theirs to lease, then they need to be a responsible landlord and hold up their end of the agreement.

  15. Posted by Uvanga on

    Why is Charlie Inuaraq gloating on facenook saying they have won the battle and that they will sign an agreement on saturday. His neice also saying that they have stopped phase 2. Did we miss something? Have they been designated as a DIO?

  16. Posted by Welcome to the Jungle on

    Looks like the majority of comments and likes are coming from BIM employees and their misinformed families. Drama queens!
    There’s a scene in the movie The Rundown aka Welcome to the Jungle, where Christopher Walken’s gold-digging character is screaming at the “natives” about how much he has helped them, in their own land, of course. So reminiscent of now, BIM is his character.

  17. Posted by Reid Kona on

    Kudos to BIM & the employees for showing the World how patient & professional you can be!
    Thank you to the Judge who ordered the “Protesters” to leave….also to the Mayor of Pond Inlet for stepping in to end this blockade…and the RCMP who went to Pond Inlet!
    My sincere sympathy to the BIM employee who lost a loved one & was NOT allowed to return home to say goodbye.
    I do hope that all the BIM employees who have been held @ the Mine due to this Protest can return home to their families soon!


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