Baffinland hearing allows parts of pro-mining video as evidence
Testimonies from Inuit employees featured in video will be considered by review board
The Nunavut Impact Review Board will admit portions of a highly criticized video as evidence for its hearing on Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.’s proposed mine expansion.
The board made the ruling Tuesday about the video, which includes testimony from Inuit employees who spoke in favour of the company’s expansion proposal.
Other narration and other imagery of the video, characterized by several opponents to the expansion as propaganda, was deemed to be potentially “prejudicial to the process” and will not be considered as evidence, according to a NIRB document.
Baffinland wants to build a 110-kilometre railway and double its iron ore shipping to 12 million tonnes per year, among other plans.
Baffinland employee Norman Simonie played the 20-minute video on Nov. 2 during the community roundtable portion of the hearing, which is set aside for community members to voice their support or concerns.
The following day, conservationist group Oceans North objected to the video, with vice-president Chris Debicki describing it as racist and propaganda.
He said it should not have been played because the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 793, which represents Baffinland employees, is not registered in the hearing.
Oceans North also alleged that the union used copyrighted material.
Throughout the following week, the Hamlet of Clyde River, Igloolik Working Group, Nunavut Independent Television and the Ikajutit Hunters and Trappers Association gave their support for Oceans North’s objection.
Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association questioned the credibility of the video and argued that it should not have been allowed late in the hearing when no other opponent had the chance to review its contents.
The union, Baffinland and the Government of Nunavut all supported the video being considered by the board, with the GN specifying that the board should be flexible in how it allows community members to participate.
The board is in the midst of wrapping up its hearing process, which began two years ago. At the end of January, it will decide if it has all of the information necessary to make a decision on the expansion.
It has not set a deadline on when it will make its final recommendation to Northern Affairs Minister Daniel Vandal on whether to approve or deny the proposal.