Iqaluit city councillor calls for support of Baffinland mine expansion

Coun. Kyle Sheppard says he’ll bring forward written motion Nov. 9

Iqaluit Coun. Kyle Sheppard says he’ll bring forward a written motion on Nov. 9 for city council to support Baffinland’s mine expansion. He brought forward a similar motion on Oct. 26 but nobody seconded the motion. (File photo)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Iqaluit Coun. Kyle Sheppard says he plans to take another run at persuading his council colleagues to support the proposed expansion of the Mary River iron mine.

Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. wants to build a 110-kilometre railway from its Mary River mine to Milne Inlet, double its iron ore shipments through the Tallurutiup Imanga marine conservation area and add another dock to its port.

Baffinland’s CEO, Brian Penney, presented to council on Oct. 12 in a bid to get a letter of support from the city.

On Tuesday, Coun. Kyle Sheppard made a motion for the city to prepare that letter of support for Baffinland’s expansion, but no councillor seconded it, and council passed on the item without discussing it or having a vote.

Sheppard said in an interview that the item was put into the agenda last minute, and that it may have taken some councillors by surprise.

He said he fully agrees with the city providing a letter of support for the company, and that he will be bringing a written motion forward next council meeting, on Nov. 9.

“This is a sensitive issue in some communities, it’s a sensitive issue for some of our residents,” Sheppard said.

“But I truly believe that the regulatory process can deal with the local impacts on site near the mine site up island. For the City of Iqaluit, as far as I’m concerned, our priority needs to be our community and our residents.”

Baffinland has paid nearly $18 million in wages to Iqalummiut since 2015, spent $153 million on contracts to Iqaluit based, Inuit-owned firms, and donated more than $175,000 to organizations in Iqaluit in the last two years, according to a report submitted by the company to city council.

Coun. Solomon Awa said he does not support providing a letter to Baffinland from the city.

The mining company hasn’t solved Inuit concerns about environmental impact in current operations and protecting the environment comes before economic benefits, he said.

“[Iron ore is] not going away. It’s going to sit there,” Awa said. “So if it’s sitting there, it’s not causing environmental [harm].

“If you want to take this out you need to have an agreement with Inuit and if you don’t follow the requests by Inuit, you can stop and go home.”

Baffinland spokesperson Heather Smiles said the company is regularly in contact with Nunavut communities where the company does business and where its employees are from.

“Communicating with and engaging community representatives is fundamental to our approach,” Smiles wrote in an email.

“Our latest presentation in Iqaluit was a continuation of our extensive efforts to maintain open communications and we look forward to continuing this dialogue.”

The Nunavut Impact Review Board’s hearing into Baffinland’s expansion proposal will resume Nov. 1 in Iqaluit.

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(27) Comments:

  1. Posted by Aputi on

    More jobs for inuit, instead of draining with social assistance, lots of able young people that can work, put on your big boy pants and go to work

    • Posted by Nunavutmiuta on

      Our Land is our provider of Water, Food, shelter and everything else that we need to survive up here and You easily willing to destroy all that of the saake of profit?

      • Posted by Aputi on

        And you guys complain that there’s no jobs, and always hungry,

      • Posted by Walk the Walk on

        What kind of shelter do you live in, Nunavutmiuta? Is it one provided by the land? Or is it one built with wood and glass, insulation, a furnace, and running water from a water pump, all shipped up from the south?

  2. Posted by John on

    While I agree that doing nothing and leaving it there causes no environmental harm, it does social and economic harm to leave it there. Leaving the iron ore resources in the ground is like having a lot of money in your pocket but refusing to use it. Your family may be hungry or need to do house repairs but you won’t use the resources available to you to be strong, proud and independent. Instead you have to count on someone else’s pity or generosity to get by. I don’t want somebody to pity me. Nunavumiut and Inuit need the jobs, tax benefits, royalties, IIBA benefits, etc… that come with an opportunity like this. This is a resource that belongs to Nunavumiut and they should be proud to benefit from it now not in some hypothetical “later”. This is Canada not some third world country. The processes are in place to ensure that the company will comply with all environmental laws and regulations.

    • Posted by Save for the largest benefit on

      There are a lot of people in this territory that could use a lesson in keeping a little bit of money in their own pocket for the future.

  3. Posted by Terry Dobbin on

    I’ve taken the time to look at some of the actual Baffinland Employment and business figures pulled from the Socio Economic report for 2020.
    1 – As of 2020, the Project has provided over $80 million in wages to Inuit Project Employees.
    2 – Between March 31, 2020 and December 31, 2020, Nunavut resident employees who remained off-site due to public health orders received an estimated $8.8 million in continued wages from Baffinland. Wages basically paid to stay home!!
    3 – The average wage for Baffinland and contractor Inuit FTEs in 2020 was $83,564. 4 – The total value of contracts awarded to Inuit Firms was $91 million in 2020 alone.
    5 – Millions of dollars in community donations to the Qikiqtani region.
    These are just a few of the benefits from 2020. The alternative is a continual dependence on Federal Government handouts.
    As for environment concerns, all the regulatory bodies like the NIRB,NWMB,NWB and others are mandated to take care of those environmental issues, let them do their job.

    • Posted by hmmm on

      I do not disagree with the research you have put in, but I feel that your opinion is slightly biased as the general manager of NWT and Nunavut’s Chamber of Mines.

      You literally get paid to say this stuff.

      • Posted by Pork Pie on

        This rebuttal feels like a fallacy to me. If bias disqualified an opinion, would any of our opinions qualify?

        But seriously.. if you agree with the data, what don’t you like about the data? Or what is missing from the picture for you?

    • Posted by Jeff on

      Of course you are biased. What else can you say. You will be long gone from Nunavut & retired in Nfld but Inuit will still be here to deal with Baffinland & the collateral damage from their for-profit mine operations. Let Inuit decide how/or if this expansion goes forward.

  4. Posted by Crystal Clarity on

    Everyone was happy for this to go ahead at the beginning and now it’s buyer’s remorse.

  5. Posted by Arctic Council on

    Why is this Iqaluit city trying to be a voice for other communities? Stay out of this Iqaluit, you have nothing to offer. Baffinland seeking support from Iqaluit! WTF. Baffinland should be going to the communities that are impacted, not, to Iqualuit, lol.

    This city council already messed up with the water crisis, now they want to create more environmental crisis in other communities! Resolve your own problems, before trying to create more in other jurisdictions, if you declare a state of emergency, then focus on that, before trying to support a company that will definitely create an impact on the environment for other communities!!

    • Posted by Ouch on

      Oh wow… sorry bud, thumbs down for “Iqualuit”

    • Posted by Steve Andersen on

      Inuit have the opportunity now to wean themselves off the government’s tit and prosper from your resources.If you don’t,you shouldn’t receive another nickel from southern taxpayers.

      • Posted by Pain In The Groen on

        Steve, that is the most out of touch and blatantly racist comment I’ve read in weeks. Gross.

  6. Posted by Can you fix my water issue please on

    Instead of dealing with a far away mine, can you focus on your job and provide me with safe water ASAP. The mining company was given a chance to present their case and no chance for the community members to be heard by council. Council has no business on this matter whatsoever at this time!

    • Posted by …… on

      Where do you think some of your drinking water has come from lately? Baffinland

    • Posted by Mind Blown on

      This may come as a shock, but City council’s job is to work on many issues simultaneously. Or would you prefer all councilors still be scratching their heads about Dumpcano?

  7. Posted by Qikiqtalummiu on

    I’ve been split on this but after thinking about it with this article, I would be in support with Kyle but with a clause. And that clause would be that ONCE Baffinland outline all their initiatives to listen to the concerns and outline what actions they are taking to limit the debris and dust spreading around the land and waters then issue the support letter – these actions are a must for Baffinland if they want more support from Inuit and our organizations.

    I think a lot of people are so one sided on this issue though. If some give can be given on both sides, the majority can be satisfied. That said, you’re still going to have the strong vocalist and typers who cannot be persuaded regardless of what either side does.

  8. Posted by Fred Durst on

    A councillor from the South who maybe has spent a couple of days in the communities that will be directly impacted by the expansion thinks that it should go ahead? What a shocker. Dude is tone-deaf.

    The decision should be made by Inuit in Pond Inlet and Arctic Bay, and the rest of us should shut up.

    • Posted by Dude on

      The dude actually went to Pond Inlet? He wouldn’t really feel the effects of the mine. His hunting grounds will be pristine and the game plentiful. That is if he hunts at all.

  9. Posted by Some things just never change on

    Colonial ways never seem to ever go away. A non-Inuk thinks he knows what’s best for Inuit once again. Thinking the Inuit do not know what’s in their best interest. Full bonus for Solomon Awa for putting the well-being of the affected community first and foremost. How is the long term prospects of the city of Iqaluit by the way, perhaps that should be on the city agenda and thought.

    • Posted by iWonder on

      Surely ‘colonial’ must mean something more precise than “anything a white guy says” or even “anything a white guys says that I don’t agree with”?

  10. Posted by Shakes the Clown on

    Red dust is a helluva drug.

    • Posted by Binky the Doormat on

      I totally feel you!

  11. Posted by Iqaluit on


  12. Posted by Mind Blown on

    Never fails to amaze how Inuit leaders say things like “leave it in the ground!”, when doing so means that hundreds of Inuit who could be working meaningful careers at the site could be breaking the vicious cycle of poverty and dependency on Income Support. I guess folks like Awa are ok with letting more generations of Inuit suffer in poverty until the deal ticks every box on the wish list.


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