Baffinland looks at all options to end Mary River airstrip blockade
Day 6: “Baffinland cannot allow any activity to continue that causes a safety concern to any of the people on site,” company says
As the Mary River mine blockades continue into their sixth day, Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. says that it’s now considering all options to reopen the airstrip.
What those options are were not specified in a news release issued by the company Tuesday afternoon.
Nunatsiaq News contacted Baffinland to ask what options the company is considering to reopen the airstrip but did not receive a response by deadline.
“Baffinland respects the right to peaceful protest, however, Baffinland cannot allow any activity to continue that causes a safety concern to any of the people on site,” the release states.
Last Thursday, 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 the mine’s Phase 2 expansion.
The mining company has previously stated that there are more than 700 employees currently being impacted by the blockades, which are preventing supplies from coming in and employees from leaving.
Yesterday, Baffinland met with representatives of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, the mayor of Pond Inlet, the Government of Nunavut and the RCMP to discuss the situation.
“While there was an agreement for support from all parties attending, the attendees have yet to find resolution or make progress toward reopening of the airstrip,” the release states.
Absent from the list of attendees provided by Baffinland were the hunters staging the blockade.
The hunters blockaded the airstrip and mine last week to protest a proposed expansion of the mine, which was the subject of a Nunavut Impact Review Board hearing that began Jan. 25 and continued through Saturday before adjourning until March. Baffinland says it needs to expand the mine by building a 110-kilometre railroad to Milne Inlet in order to make it financially sustainable.
As of Monday afternoon, Naymen Inuarak, one of the hunters at the mine site, said that he hadn’t yet heard from QIA or NTI but that he’d be willing to talk with them.
Tuesday morning, QIA released a statement addressing the ongoing protests across the territory, thanking Inuit for speaking up and informing the decisions being considered by the organization.
“It is abundantly clear to me that the Phase 2 proposal before the Nunavut Impact Review Board has not been adequately developed,” said QIA president P.J. Akeeagok in the release.
“Success can be achieved when parties have time to work together to advance a common vision.”
Although the release doesn’t mention the blockade by name, a QIA spokesperson told Nunatsiaq News via email that a letter to the protesters was issued Tuesday morning, but didn’t say whether that was the same as the release or not.
While everyone has the right to protest, they are clearly not protesting to the right people. BIMC has a lawful lease to the land, which is owned by the QIA/NTI and those who are making blockades are trespassing. Pond Inlet doesn’t own the land. The MHTO doesn’t own the land. These hunters definitely don’t own the land. People are being held hostage just for going to work to earn an honest living and support their families, they have nothing to do with the situation. Instead of blaming Baffinland these “hunters” should go to Iqaluit and protest in front of QIA or NTI. This is beyond stupid. Land the plane, the handful “protestors” will move out of the way.
The land is privately own by Pond Inlet Inuit. ‘Supposedly’ manage by QIA.
Read the Nunavut Land Claim Agreement. There is NO SUCH thing as the ‘Pond Inlet Inuit’. The Hamlet of Pond Inlet does not own the land. The Land Claim gives all IOL ato NTI, who has given it to QIA.
Feel like QIA is breaching the trust from the land claim? Sue. Vote new board members in. There are many options. Protesting a private company who is lawfully leasing the land on a consensual basis from QIA, as elected by INUIT.
If pond inlet “Owns” it, how come pond inlet does not mine it themselves?
Absolutely incorrect. The surface and subsurface rights to the land are held by the Designated Inuit Organizations, which in this case are NTI and QIA. The Inuit of Pond Inlet own absolutely nothing.
The whole point of protest is to disrupt the system, the flow, to make apparent how connected we really are, to wake up all us sleepy heads who don’t think they have anything to do with anything because we are just going to work and earning an honest living and providing for our families. It makes a lot of sense to protest at the mine site. This is the very place that is of concern!! Not some QIA office. the problem is things are being wheeled and dealed off the land by ppl with day jobs in offices. Cutting off the routes in and out to the mine points to the heart of the matter. It makes me think that maybe Inuit hunters feel the mine or the proceedings around the expansion are just as unfair, or are cutting them off from their land/resources or disrupting the paths and travel routes of caribou or narwhal and hunter, and so preventing them too from earning an honest living and providing for their families
Railing against “the system” was cool when I was a kid, but eventually I grew up.
“Baffinland respects the right to peaceful protest, however, Baffinland cannot allow any activity to continue that causes a safety concern to any of the people on site.”
Unfortunately, there isn’t much Baffinland can do besides lobby the government. Given the optics I doubt either the GN or the Government of Canada want to touch this, but they will ultimately have to do something. I feel for the hostages in all this.
Baffinland can obtain a court order demanding the immediate removal of the blockade and then get the RCMP to enforce it. I have heard that this is already happening.
This is getting silly. The protesters said all medical planes could land and depart. Also, people have already started leaving the mine by planes with no new workers incoming. Baffinland is using nunatsiaq to twist the story as a tool to gain force.
That is a lie. No flights have come or gone from site. People that work there are currently stuck there. RCMP will likely have to end this and arrest the hunters
That’s correct. No flights are able to leave. My brother is stuck up there now and he cannot come home to his family. Also, some workers have health issues and will run out of their medications. This could be disastrous to those individuals.
Where are you getting your information? The last passenger plane that landed in Mary River was on January 28th. According to all the flight trackers there are no flights landing in Mary River that have been registered with the TCCA
No workers have left since this has all started. The protestors are still on the airstrip. It will take hours to repair damage from the fire before any planes can land on it.
Not true. The protesters have blocked the runway and damaged it. No planes have landed or left since they arrived. They’re holding people hostage. Not cool. This has nothing to do with the environment or actually with Baffinland. It’s 100% about money. They should be let people go and protesting at QIA and NTI!!!!!!!!!!.
Nope. Not true. Easy to check using flight aware.
beyond silly, i agree 🙁 all this “crisis talk” of forcible confinements and armed militia and hostage takings——-pure hysteria. As usual, indigenous protest is framed as violence, with little mention of the violence against which it is protesting. Or like how those “Bathroomland” signs at the hearings in Pond were seen as a form of intimidation, rather than as some good old fashioned PG potty humour dissent
This is a classic example of forcible confinement and the posters were fine until they started appearing at the site of a quasi-judicial hearing where Baffinland officials were testifying. At which point they became intimidation and coercion.
It would be helpful if you could direct us toward those statements, would you mind?
Does Baffinland’s list of all considering “all options”.t include the option of actually meeting with protestors or seeking mediation to find a resolution?
Yes, there is. I’m pretty sure Baffinland is willing to fly those hunters to Iqaluit to speak with QIA and NTI.
They said flights can only land if it is a medical emergency. That’s it. There are no workers leaving or arriving and no food or supplies either
Absolutely and factually untrue. No plane arrives on baffiland empty. That is ridiculous. We cannot leave and I wont be seeing my children this week.
My son has been working there for his three weeks on shift. He was to fly out with hundreds others today to go home to his family in B. C. No one left today and no one is leaving tomorrow. These innocent employees are being held hostage now! Come on !
Nobody is leaving or has left by plane!
I can attest 100% that this information it totally inaccurate. I am one of the 700 at Baffinland that can not leave. NO INBOUND OR OUTBOUND flights has been to Baffinland since the blockade started. Get your facts strait….
Say you went to leave work tonight and you boss said No. We have protesters outside and you can’t leave till they do…
You now have to phone your husband or wife and tell them you’re not sure when you are coming home. You have to tell your children mommy or daddy won’t be coming home… The kids ask when they will be able to see you again? And you can’t respond…
The protesters are there for a reason, and you may even understand and agree with what they are protesting.
But my three year doesn’t ….
This is my reality right now. There are so many uncertainties in the world right now that we are all dealing with as a whole.
My heart goes out to anyone who doesn’t feel heard. To be perfectly honest it’s too political for me to really understand where things went wrong. And I do hope for a resolution that is fair.
As for right now tho I’m just asking the protesters to let my spouse come home.
This is incorrect, nobody left the mine. I am in contact with a friend who works there….they are slow6running out of emergency water and food supplies…
QIA must realize they’re not speaking on behalf of the Hunters in the affected communities and must not continue to pretend to speak on their behalf. I live in south baffin and we can see the bloated organization it’s become. They have many programs and have been hiring madly to try to address the many roles it’s taken on. One thing they’ve forgotten while counting their millions is the regular hunter in north baffin. For the sake of our kids- give the north baffin their due- give them their full right to negotiate and benefit from the damage that’ll occur in their hunting grounds. It’s painful for us to watch- and my sympathy goes to Namen, Sheena and other people who have put their lives on the line to get QIA to understand they cannot continue to speak on their behalf. They’ll go to court and you’ll lose- give them the rightful position and ask Baffinland to delay for 2 or 3 years until they have their own people to negotiate on their terms. Canada, don’t pick your partner, the north baffin community members must be the beneficiaries of that project. We can help them fulfill the impossible job that is ahead of us.
The Inuit Certainty Agreement is already much more than any company should have ever negotiated. Its a ridiculously large sum of money and promises made that should of never happened. No other company in their right minds would of ever made these commitments and will never happen again. You will not get better than that deal…
QIA, NTI , Government of Nunavut get your heads out of sand and fix this. Poor leadership and representation from all these so called leaders.
This whole thing is just a gong show and comical if u ask me.
Baffinland iron ore is spreading by ocean and land as dust I hope this well be look in to as well we eat Animals up here iron ore dust get to animals then to humans help us please
“Absent from the list of attendees provided by Baffinland were the hunters staging the blockade.”
So you’ve got a group that are upset because they feel that they’ve been left out of the process and you have a meeting to decide what to do about them and you leave them out of the process. Can you hear yourself??
“Absent from the list of attendees provided by Baffinland were the hunters staging the blockade.”
So you have a group of people who feel like they’re left out of a process and you have a meeting to decide what to do about it and you leave them out of the process. Can you hear yourself?
There have been NO BIM employees allowed to leave the Mine!! Numerous news articles have stated this fact!
These Hunters have blocked the Air Strip….have they allowed the BIM employees to do maintenance on the runway or the road connecting the 2 Camps? Has the runway been damaged from the “blockade”? If so…when will the BIM employees be allowed to work on this? If there was a medical emergency…would the runway be accessible for an incoming plane?
I wonder if any of the Protesters understand the term “forcible confinement”?
The road that connects the Camps has been “blocked”….as is the Air Strip that connects the Mine & “employees” to the “outside”.
“What is forcible confinement?
This crime states that it is illegal to force another person to remain in one location through the use of threats, coercion or physical actions. Similar to kidnapping, a conviction for forcible confinement carries serious penalties.”
“Blockade = an act or means of sealing off a place to prevent goods or people from entering or leaving….seal off (a place) to prevent goods or people from entering or leaving.
It’s one thing to protest & stop “production”…but when the BIM employees are being “held” @ the Mine and “cannot” leave…this is no longer a “protest”.
Make this right…and remove the blockade from the Air Strip!
““Baffinland is responsible for the safety of every person at Mary River, including all employees, contractors, and the protesters,” the company stated. “Many of the people working at Mary River have been on site for 21 days now and they are not being allowed to leave, nor are food and supply flights being allowed to land. Working in the high Arctic, those on site bring enough additional medicine and supplies for potential weather delays, however continued suspension of air travel and blocking of medicine and supplies will have an impact in the near term.”
End this “blockade” and negotiate in a “proper” manner….with the “appropriate” people!
I think the hunters need to move their camp now. I think they should move it to the road that goes up the mountain where the ore is dug up. let the air strip be fixed and get the workers home. Not allowing any ore to be obtained would continue to disrupt BIM and QIA bottom line.
Once the workers have left maybe move back to the airstrip. I do like that it is also impacting average workers at the mine. just like phase 2 will impact the average hunter in North Baffin. also by opening up the airstrip and then closing it down again after the crews left would show that even after this protest is done… we will be watching BIM and if we dont like what they are doing we can shut it all down again.
The legitimacy of your argument and demands are moot when you close down a remote airstrip and hold hostage hundreds of workers who have absolutely nothing to do with your demands. These people have families and loved ones waiting for them, worried about their wellbeing, while you have decided that your demands are more important then people just trying to do their job. It is especially ridiculous when your demands are not even directed towards the company you have held hostage. Should you not direct your frustration to the actual entity you are trying to sway? There is no protest here just a small group of people holding a large group of people hostage because they can and let’s just tell it like it is, all over money!
Baffinland might not have the power or ability to meet the demands of the protesters but what about potential lawsuits from the workers? This is illegal.
Let’s hope no one gets hurt or seriously sick and requires medical aid beyond what their on site staff can provide.
The stresses and tensions rise each day. No one has control over this situation if an emergency was to arise. There are barriers to the safety of the workers.