Baffinland hearing allows parts of pro-mining video as evidence

Testimonies from Inuit employees featured in video will be considered by review board

An Aqsarniit hotel conference room is seen on Nov. 1, during the opening day of the Nunavut Impact Review Board’s resumed in-person hearing on Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.’s mining expansion proposal. (File photo by David Venn)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

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.

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(16) Comments:

  1. Posted by Scripted on

    I watched the video. I find it very funny. Baffinland did anything to try have them say what baffinland want them to say. I can say that it is scripted. If majority of the people say what want to say and how they want to say things. They would be speaking Inuktitut. But baffinland wrote what they want them to read. Can tell some of them are reading.

    • Posted by Ian on

      Exactly, and all the opponents from the south have the exact same speech writers , but let’s not hear from the real taxpayers, from there. Nice to see 2 sides of scripted comments for a change instead of the ones that oppose it

    • Posted by Oh Ima on

      What you guys are basically saying is that Inuit are incapable of coming up with thoughts and discussions of why they are grateful for job opportunities provided by Baffinland and AEM.
      Both mining companies through IIBA are actually trying to live up to IIBAs and meet employment targets. Currently in Nunavut Education system is so bad that they are not able to produce graduates that are just one of the reason why Inuit are not advancing. Most of these workers have no other opportunities other than what Baffinland has to offer.

      • Posted by Scripted on

        That’s not what I am saying. I am saying baffinland don’t want their employees to say what they love about their job and why they choose to work there. Instead, they wrote down what they want their employees to say. It’s quite opposite. Baffinland is so desperate. If people love their job, I’d rather have them say what they love about their work themselves. That would be more meaningful for them.

        • Posted by Uh-huh on

          So, do you have proof of that, or are you just calling the Inuit employees in the video liars?

        • Posted by Oh Ima on

          Did you help create the script? Were you there?

    • Posted by Not impressed on

      Delete this comment please Nunatsiaq. You’re clearly just baiting people to respond to your baseless claim. “I find it very funny” just shows how you think you sit atop of your high pedestal looking down at either the working class or Inuit that work at the mine. Evaluate your own prejudice before you comment on an issue like this. You have offended many.

      • Posted by Offended? on

        I offended many? I commented defended my people. I commented because the people of pond inlet and their land is being ruined just for money. I commented because I care about the land and the animals. I’m sorry if I offended people but I feel like we need to focus on what will be there after 100 years. And that is the land and the people. Baffinland will not be there.

        • Posted by Still missing the point on

          You say only “the people and land” will be there in 100 years. Some of these “people” you’re concerned about will be the descendants of those Inuit employees who currently work at the mine. They will be the grandchildren of the brave people in the video fighting for economic opportunities – fighting to give their grandchildren opportunities beyond continued dependence on the federal government.

          Why do you cast aside the voices of people in your community just because they don’t share the same position as you? NIRB recognized that not all Inuit have the exact same mind about things – they recognized that Inuit have agency, free will, and are fully capable of advocating opposing perspectives on an issue. We should celebrate that diversity in thought is still allowed in these hearings. Stop trying to silence your neighbours and taking the side of shameful organizations like oceans north who assume they know best for others.

  2. Posted by Imagine on

    What if Greenland and Nunavut, were completely independent. Imagine how much more desperate they’d be, and how woken they’d be to the realities of the modern world.

    I truly understand that there are grave historical grievances from both Canada and Denmark, but the ever fruitful umbilical cord has spoiled the frozen north into a wasteland of lost opportunity and false realities.

  3. Posted by Terry Dobbin on

    FYI, just to note advocacy groups are funded by very wealthy and powerful, charitable foundations, from the US and abroad whose mandate are solely conservation. Once their agenda is accomplished they will disappear. We need to change that dynamic or we will face the situation of other people putting words into our mouth.
    I cannot understand either/or mentality, a balance should be the new dialogue where mining and the traditional way of life can co-exist. The regulatory bodies are in place to ensure that the environment will be protected and the Nunavummiut do not necessarily have to miss out on the benefits of resource development. We really need the support of some strong Nunavummiut leaders to help change this way of thinking. If managed properly, we can have our cake and eat it too.

  4. Posted by observer on

    it will be very funny to me when someone comes forward and says that BIM gave them what to say!
    Come on free university and college education. I hope more people take advantage of it in the newer generation… The education and jobs comes with housing and money!!!. and assistance (mental, health, dental, oh wait, these are already free).
    So what are we needing and missing here?
    BIM should be made to stay in its current state until all its issues are remediated. And their native employment is more than a joke. How can a move forward be granted if they cant even tackle what they have.
    Crooks acting like they are water in the desert
    And just a reminder to the readers north and south, never once in the development of this mine (10 yrs now, correct me if Im wrong) did BIM say that if they didn’t get a railway they would close down. Scare tactic, but the world is getting over these.
    Check out the world mining news, no shortage in the demand for ore, let alone one of the most pure deposits in the world. Think about it. They just want to see all the $ in their immediate future? hence the rail or nothing move? With a frig the people and environment attitude.
    Lastly, to BIM, you stated that all the dust was from crushing and the tires and not the truck beds, then start by using an eco-friendly dust supressant of some kind and your new crusher. Show us that you can handle what you have instead of being so greedy.

    • Posted by reality on

      What Nunavut needs and will be missing if the mine closes. Is gross domestic product.

  5. Posted by Bobyourhead on

    I always find it quite ridiculous when there is talk about “the traditional way of life” for native and Inuit people. What a hoax.
    I would have great respect for anyone who actually lived in a traditional way, hell even hunted in a traditional way.
    Unfortunately that way of living is long gone.
    A population of too many and poor natural resource management by native peoples.
    The fact of the matter is you heat your home’s with imported diesel. There’s nothing traditional about that, nor do I hear any whining about sustainable Fossil fuel extraction.
    So resources extraction is totally fine with you….as long as it somewhere else?
    In my opinion you have two choices, go back to the traditional ways, stop importing all you food,fuel and sucking .govs teet or embrace the modern age, get a job and enjoy the higher quality of life that comes with it.

  6. Posted by No Moniker on

    At least one major point that can be taken from all this is that unless you “stay in your lane” (which is to say, unless you say the things the gatekeepers of Inuit identity want you to say) you are not a ‘real Inuk’ … in which case your opinion can be summarily discounted, ignored, and even shown a little contempt.

  7. Posted by Truestory on

    I didn’t see the video. I love working here at the Mary River mines. I also know my fellow Inuit workers would rather work than collect welfare cheques. They also love working here. Some of us Inuit are getting the training we need in our respective trades. I alone wrote this. MY script, not B.I.M.’s.


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