Baffinland hearing lifts restrictions on questions after backlash from Inuit groups

Nunavut Impact Review Board backtracks after Inuit parties warned restrictions were unconstitutional

Nunavut Impact Review Board chairperson Marjorie Kaviq Kaluraq has lifted restrictions on questions from participants during the final hearing on Baffinland’s proposed mine expansion. (Screen shot)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Clarification: This story has been updated to specify that there will be no limit on the number of questions parties can ask during final presentations that weren’t made in November 2019.

The Nunavut Impact Review Board says it will lift restrictions on the number of questions parties can ask during final presentations at the hearing on Baffinland’s proposed expansion of its Mary River mine.

The board’s chairperson Marjorie Kaviq Kaluraq announced the decision Friday during her morning remarks on day five of the two-week hearing on the company’s expansion plans. The board is ending its first week of a hearing on Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.’s proposal to expand the mine to ensure its financial sustainability.

Her decision came with a clear message: “Keep your questions concise.”

Kaviq Kaluraq said that questioning would be unrestricted during final presentations because the material wasn’t included during the November 2019 public hearing.

On Wednesday, the board announced it would limit parties to three questions per round for the sake of time.

Members of Inuit organizations said that policy was insulting and contradicted the board’s mandate to “emphasize flexibility and informality” and “give due regard and weight to the tradition of Inuit oral communication,” as written in the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.

“Procedural fairness to Inuit communities and Inuit participants during this proceeding has not been given,” said Igloolik Mayor Merlyn Recinos during Thursday’s afternoon session.

Hunters and community representatives have raised concerns about the environmental impact of the mine expansion, which would see increased ship traffic and construction of a 110-km railway between the mine and Milne Inlet.

The Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, which will ultimately make the decision on the mine expansion based on the board’s recommendation, said Inuit must be included in the conversations.

“The Government believes that members of the communities impacted in the Baffin region must have a meaningful opportunity to make their views known during the Nunavut Impact Review Board’s (NIRB) final public hearing, to inform and influence decisions about this important project,” a spokesperson said in an email to Nunatsiaq News Wednesday.

The hearing continues until Feb. 6.

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(13) Comments:

  1. Posted by Excuse me? on

    The story is utterly inaccurate to anyone who watched the feed and paid attention. It was announced on Thursday that because the subject of Marine effects hadn’t been reached in 2019 and so hadn’t faced any questions before, there’d be no limit on questions. And if someone was paying attention, they’d see the limits on questions was still in place Friday morning to end the subject on Thursday. So pretty much everything in this story is wrong.

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    • Posted by Northerner on

      Inuit should just tell them that no matter what Baffinland does they do not want them there. All they want is for Ottawa to keep paying the bills and they don’t care about supporting themselves. If funding stopped I wonder if opinions would change?

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      • Posted by Jessee on

        What your idea doesnt get is that people in the northern communities dont see a dime, or even a garbage can. Very very very few got jobs and now paid to sit on home couches. Thes is not benefits

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        • Posted by People on

          People don’t see a dime from NTI and QIA. Why is that everyone else’s problem? If the ruling class take and don’t distribute to the rest, there is a governance issue Inuit need to figure out. Mines like Baffinland pay big bucks to these orgs. Ask NTIs Board and Executive, all six figure hacks, where the money is.

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        • Posted by Northern Guy on

          Absolutely incorrect. Between the IiBA and Certainty Agreement Inuit will accrue hundreds of millions of dollars in direct benefits (royalties, contracts and employment) and indirect benefits (training programs scholarships etc). It is nonsensical to say otherwise.

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      • Posted by Brian Hanson on

        Not sure about your comment about … all they want is Ottawa to keep paying .. what about the billions that Nunavut will receive for iron ore royalties

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  2. Posted by Capitulate to the mob on

    We pay these people six figures and they can’t even figure out how to run a hearing? Do these people think there is unlimited time and resources? What constitutional right would be infringed by limiting questions? Waste of tax money.

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    • Posted by Back Yard on

      Okay. Next time a company wants to run a pipeline through your backyard, they can just do it. No going to City Hall to appear before Council, no hearing for you to attend. Just a waste of money. We will just say “go right ahead”!

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      • Posted by My Back Tundra on

        They are running a hearing but every ignoramus thinks they can go on diatribes for hours on end. The hearing is a week behind schedule. Watching the competence of question makers is excruciating and rarely of any use. If you want a place to rant and rave go to a therapist. I don’t care about the outcome. I neither invest in mining nor live in the community. What I am tired of is decision makers, empowered by a gd land claim and statute, capitulate to every Tom Dick and Harry who wants to scream. How many more federal tax dollars can we burn to consult people? Why not have ten months of hearings? They need to make this process for lawyers and people who know what they are doing and reign in the unwashed masses. This hearing is a dumpster fire if I have ever seen one and I am tired of paying for it.

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        • Posted by Every Tom Dick and Harry on

          Dear My Back Tundra. This is hilarious/ironic. Speaking of excruciating diatribes that go on and on and on: if you have no stakes or interest in the mine or the communities, and don’t care how the hearings turn out, but are just looking for a place to rant and rave – then yes please rather do go see a therapist instead of post here? Who knows, maybe it will even be covered by my tax dollars?
          Yours Truly, the lawyers and unwashed masses

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      • Posted by Logos & Pathos on

        The comparison to a pipeline being run through your backyard without consent is simply not a valid analogy to what is happening here, at all. Sorry, this is emotionally manipulative, misleading rhetorical non-sense.

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  3. Posted by Centrist on

    Patience is a virtue. Phase two needs to happen if the mine is going to have a future. All parties involved must reach some kind of compromise or the consequences of moving ahead without local co-operation may be detrimental to the mine’s sustainability.
    There are hundreds of locals employed by the mine, and yes, during the pandemic they are receiving full pay to stay at home because of the possibility of viral spread to local communities. Not many employers in Canada, let alone the world have policies in place like this.
    Keep in mind Baffinland is an iron ore mine. It does not have tailings ponds, it does not have any chemicals that are used to process the ore. The ore is crushed and shipped. The major environmental concerns for the expansion of this mine are solely based on the transport of the ore. Unfortunately there are more pressing issues in this area of the arctic relating to accelerated climate change and depleting fish stocks by illegal foreign overfishing.
    Hopefully both sides can be satisfied by the hearings and phase two can move ahead. Only then can we start focusing on the issues that are truly detrimental to this area and its people.

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  4. Posted by Truestory on

    When the N.W.P. (North West Passage to those ignorants) opens, there will be MORE ships going through Nunavut. Sooner or later it will happen. Think about that too, not just B.I.M..

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