Op-ed: Clean, co-operative resource development is welcome, but that’s not what Baffinland is offering
Nuluujaat Land Guardians member responds to Baffinland op-ed
Updated on Monday, April 25, 2022 at 10:30 p.m.
We agree with some of what Paul Quassa says in his recent op-ed promoting the Baffinland mine.
We agree that Nunavut should be a vibrant, self-sufficient territory, that developments must protect Inuit land and culture, and that it’s possible to have resource extraction projects and Inuit hunting go together.
Where we disagree, very strongly, is on whether Baffinland Iron Mine Corp.’s Mary River mine expansion proposal fits with any of these objectives. Based on our experiences with Baffinland and its mine, we believe this expansion is not compatible with Inuit hunting, and is in fact a threat to Inuit land, culture and self-sufficiency.
Since Baffinland opened its mine, hunters and elders have observed serious effects on our animals and land. We have watched the animals decline. And this is just at current levels of production. Narwhal calving grounds are at risk. A key caribou migration route could be disrupted by the railway Baffinland wants to build.
We have tried to engage in good faith with Baffinland to have our concerns addressed. We are not opposed to all mining. We just want to see mining done in a socially and environmentally responsible way. But Baffinland refuses to take meaningful steps to address Inuit concerns.
The environmental working groups meant to monitor impacts from the mine and recommend changes are dysfunctional and ineffective. Baffinland has lost the trust of communities by ignoring or refusing to use Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit.
From our experience, Baffinland is a bully. What we and many Inuit see is a company trying to manipulate, pressure and force Inuit into accepting a project that could destroy our way of life. We see a company trying to exploit Inuit economically and culturally.
Baffinland tries to present itself as the solution to all our problems, our only path to a better future. But this ignores that so many of our problems are actually caused or made worse by Baffinland. Also ignored are those communities outside of the five most affected.
Mines come and go, but our communities will still be here after the mine is gone. We must take care of our animals to ensure they are always here to sustain us and our traditions.
We are telling you this mine is harming us. We are saying no to this expansion. Our culture and traditions are not for sale.
Joelie Pewatoaluk is a member of the Nuluujaat Land Guardians.