Nuluujaat Land Guardians credit Vandal with ‘listening hard and well’ on Baffinland expansion

Opponents of Mary River mine expansion express ‘generous and grateful thanks’ to officials responsible for turning down project

The Nuluujaat Land Guardians, a group of protesters opposed to the proposed expansion of the Mary River mine, set up a blockade in February 2021, focusing international attention on their fight with Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. over a proposal they said would disrupt caribou and narwhal habitat, threatening Inuit traditional way of life. (Photo from Nunavut Court of Justice)

By Nunatsiaq News

The Nuluujaat Land Guardians — the group that blockaded Baffinland’s Mary River mine in 2021 to protest its proposed expansion — thanked federal cabinet ministers “for listening hard and well to Inuit” after they turned down the project last week.

The organization, led by hunters in Pond Inlet, issued a statement Tuesday in response to federal Northern Affairs Minister Daniel Vandal’s decision to accept a recommendation from the Nunavut Impact Review Board to not allow Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.’s so-called Phase 2 expansion.

As northern affairs minister, Vandal had the final say on the project, but he consulted with four other federal cabinet ministers.

The group credited Vandal and the other federal ministers for “recognizing our right to hold to account organizations involved in mining and how it impacts our lands.”

The guardians group also expressed “generous and grateful thanks” to their family members for supporting them while they took a stand against what they allege is contamination at the Mary River iron mine, about 150 kilometres southwest of Pond Inlet.

The group also commended hunters and trappers organizations and the NIRB panel involved in evaluating the proposal over the past four years.

In 2018, Baffinland formally applied to NIRB, the board responsible for assessing the social and economic impact of development proposals in Nunavut, to double the production of iron ore at Mary River mine.

To do that, it planned to build a 110-kilometre railway from the mine to Milne Inlet, construct a new dock and increase the number of ships allowed in the area.

The guardians group opposed the proposed mine expansion, saying more boats, trucks and trains would scare away caribou and narwhal that Inuit in the area depend on for sustenance.

In February 2021, the group staged a protest at the mine for about a week, bringing its operations to a standstill and reportedly costing the company $14 million.

The guardians commended Nunavut’s NDP MP Lori Idlout, who they said is “working hard to support the authority of Inuit.”

In the statement, the group vowed to continue monitoring the land and to continue legal avenues for cleaning up what it alleges is contamination at the Mary River site.

Asked about the guardians’ statement, Baffinland also expressed its own thanks to its supporters.

“We are equally grateful to those community members that have engaged constructively to share their concerns and questions, many of which resulted in positive changes to our plans,” Baffinland spokesperson Peter Akman said.

He cited the economic benefits the company has brought to Nunavut, including $100 million in wages to Inuit and $1.5 billion to Inuit firms since 2015.

“Phase 2 was the mechanism to create a sustainable future for our business and for communities, while addressing the concerns we have heard related to possible impacts on wildlife, the environment, and Inuit participation,” he said.

Baffinland said it will continue to work with Inuit to manage dust through its own environmental management system and through systems developed under the Qikiqtani Inuit Association’s Inuit Stewardship Plan.

 

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(18) Comments:

  1. Posted by Truestory on

    What a blow to the hard working Inuit B.I.M. employees. We work and want to work. Keeps us out of collecting “Income Support”. Guess them “Land Guardians” like to collect “Income Support”. And to think I Support them thru my tax dollars. “Nomadic” life is gone in Nunavut. Most young folk can’t even hunt anymore. That’s when they need jobs. Not Income Support.

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    • Posted by Ned Flanders on

      I wonder if the “Guards” and MP now have their “Grinch Grin” on for December.

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    • Posted by Worker on

      2600 jobs at Mary River minus 200 Inuit workers equals 2400 more jobs you can apply for. Remember, BIM seem to want Inuit content. Oh, and there are many, many other mine jobs in the country. All the best to you.

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    • Posted by Yeah Right on

      How silly, Truestory has got the blinders on. If you have a job there now, guess what, you get to keep it. And if the rail went in how many Inuit do you think would still have those jobs? They would have been replaced by a fraction of southern specialized workers. Keep your alligator tears.

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      • Posted by Truestory on

        Yeah Tight. I guess you never worked at the Mary River mine. B.I.M. has to ask for 2 extra tons every year from 4 tons to 6just to keep it viable. Or are you one of those who loves collecting income support?

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    • Posted by Modern Inuk on

      As if BIM is the only place with jobs in the world.

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      • Posted by Truestory on

        It is. A very good place to get a trade job for Nunavummiut. Trying to get my electrician journeyman up there. I get support from them. Awesome fellow workers too, good food. Benefits are good too. That’s progress for us Inuit.

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  2. Posted by iThink on

    It feels like much of the opposition to the mine and celebration about this decision is really veiled jealousy and schadenfreude.

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    • Posted by Dave on

      I think you nailed it.

      Taking such pleasure in another family losing a pay cheque does reveal a lot about a poster’s character.

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    • Posted by Kaalagit on

      Minus the fact that it isn’t, don’t always trust your feelings, must be severe RSV

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  3. Posted by Jim on

    The folks always talking about the necessity of mine jobs need to remember that the land has supported Inuit for over a millennia. That is 1000+ years and the mine can damage the environment and be done in VERY little time. You would have no job faster if the mine expanded and more damage to the environment. What would a 100 kilometer long railway do to wreck areas where animals feed, breed and migrate? Taime

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    • Posted by Pack Up and Go on

      Maybe everyone from the south should pack up and leave, and the all the mines should shut down. The federal Government should turn over management of the Territory to NTI.

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    • Posted by Bim on

      The land supported a very small population of Inuit for millennia. There has never been a larger Inuit population. Since the land isn’t growing to support a growing population, maybe its time to adjust thinking since to adapt is to survive.

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      • Posted by Kaalagit on

        Once they introduced disease and reliance on them, our numbers and populations definitely dwindled, not to mention the genocide as well

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      • Posted by No Clue @ all on

        For 1,000 years it was a marginal existence, never far from starvation. I guess if that is what you want to return to, then fine… but we know that’s not the case. Inuit today want to enjoy all the benefits of modernity. Either way, pretending that a rail line is going to destroy the caribou and rain down catastrophe is laughable, but exactly the kind of pablum I expect.

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  4. Posted by Food for thought on

    Has the so-called “Land Guardians” also considered cruise ships that enter arctic waters? Pond Inlet receives most cruise ships than any other community in Nunavut and those cruise ships have no respect for wildlife and rules regulated by Canadian and Territorial governments, yet Pond Inlet welcomes them. BIM give 99% more money than cruise ships and respect speed limits. Cruise Ships chase narwhals so they can take selfies. The problem is not Baffinland ships, it’s the cruise ships.

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  5. Posted by Steensby on

    Thank you Land Guardians and minister Vandal, big applause to you guys from the bottom of my heart.
    Finally BIM hit the end of the railway. Why divide these communities and make them fight against each other. BIM IS PURE DIVIDE AND CONQUER RIGIME.
    steensby is already approved for 18 Mt a year. Go make your holy grail over there and stop using this same license to get your easy ways so called 005. And the union 5hat is suppose to help out employees get your stuff together and be real union not some fake union who slave around to BIM.

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