Pond Inlet hunters push to exclude new benefits agreement from hearing on mine expansion

Deal struck by Baffinland and Qikiqtani Inuit Association only selectively dealt with at hearing, hunters say

Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.’s vice-president of sustainable development, Megan Lord-Hoyle, fields questions during the third day of a two-week Nunavut Impact Review Board hearing for Baffinland’s proposed mine expansion. (Screen shot)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Mittimatalik Hunters and Trappers Organization wants to exclude a multi-million dollar agreement from evidence in deliberations over a mine expansion in north Baffin Island, unless that deal is dissected before the committee in full.

The organization is asking for the Inuit Certainty Agreement to be excluded from records used by the Nunavut Impact Review Board to decide whether to let Baffinland expand its Mary River iron mine. Alternatively, the Pond Inlet organization wants the board to admit the agreement into evidence, so that it can be questioned in full.

A motion dealing with these requests is scheduled to be debated later today.

The Inuit Certainty Agreement, struck in June, would amend the existing Inuit impact and benefits agreement between the Qikiqtani Inuit Association and Baffinland.

It has 34 sections that outline community incentives, the inclusion of Inuit traditional knowledge and more.

Eric Ootoovak, chair of the Mittimatalik Hunters and Trappers Organization, said in an email to Nunatsiaq News that if the board excludes the parts of the agreement that have been introduced, “it will force Baffinland to be more transparent about the fact they have not addressed Inuit concerns.”

The organization says the board has not sought concerns from affected communities about the Inuit Certainty Agreement, and hunters “remain confused about what parts of the ICA the board considers relevant,” according to the notice of motion provided by the organization on Jan. 25.

“Considering only a partial and one-sided picture of the ICA prejudices MHTO and other affected communities, and creates confusion and unfairness in the hearing,” the document states.

Heather Smiles, Baffinland’s manager of stakeholder relations, said in an email to Nunatsiaq News that “Baffinland will be filing its response to all motions on the public record.”

“It would be inappropriate to comment until a response has been submitted to the board as part of the NIRB process,” she said.

The Inuit Certainty Agreement would only be implemented if Baffinland’s mine expansion plans receive federal approval following the final hearing.

The agreement involves plans for adaptive management, in which the company will remain flexible in its operations to account for environmental problems that arise throughout the life of the mine, according to the 49-page document. It also states that there will be social monitoring to preserve language, support Inuit way of life, education and mental health.

But the Mittimatalik Hunters and Trappers Organization argues that the “so-called beneficial programs under the ICA” have not been discussed in full, and is misleading because not all of the arrangements in the agreement are finalized.

For example, one clause states that if, in certain matters, Baffinland and QIA do not agree, the decision will be up to an arbitrator, which Ootoovak said would be “imposed on Inuit.”

“Baffinland and QIA want to say, ‘Look at this great [agreement]’ without showing the board the whole agreement,” said Ootoovak. “Particularly those parts that are not helpful to Baffinland.”

In a supporting document to the motion, Ootoovak said that Arctic Bay, Pond Inlet, Igloolik, Sanirijak and Clyde River must be “reasonably satisfied” for QIA to support the Inuit Certainty Agreement during the board hearings.

“The fact that QIA is presenting part of the ICA suggests that consensus exists, when in fact it does not,” he wrote.

The nine-member Nunavut Impact Review Board assesses the environmental and socio-economic impacts of development projects and advises the federal and territorial governments on their findings.

The Baffinland hearing is being assessed by three members who were appointed by the board in October 2020.

The hearing will continue until Feb 6.

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(12) Comments:

  1. Posted by Mack on

    Okay right on do not let southerners try to take over our land. it’s happened with agnico eagle and now our caribou are slowly vanishing slowly

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  2. Posted by Federal Dollars on

    With the way these mining hearings turn into a circus, it is little wonder why there is little to no development in Nunavut. It will forever be a federally funded territory.

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    • Posted by geena on

      we have these for a good reason, so glad we dont think like you.

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      • Posted by Generational Dependency Is Us on

        Thinking like yours will continue to keep us dependent on others. Excellent work.

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  3. Posted by taima on

    A billion dollars.
    Sounds like a lot of money.
    But Inuit have already receiced a billion dollars.
    That was NTI from Ottawa. This is QIA from Mary River.
    What benefit have Inuit received from the first billion?
    What has been learned from the first billion?
    A few people have gotten rich. A few elders have gotten a tiny amount. But for most Inuit, all that is heard is complain.
    .
    Where’s the plan to use the money to build a better Nunavut?

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  4. Posted by Wow on

    Something wrong with this? QIA has a certainty agreement with baffinland yet they represent the very communities that are opposing the expansion. Inuit not talking to their own inuit. Mittimatalikmiut should get infrastructure like housing in place before agreeing to an expansion. Inuit workers are moving south due to lack of housing. Legacy project on infrastructure would be good for both inuit and baffinland

  5. Posted by Jeff on

    We need to stop dividing the north and south. We are all canadian citizens we need to create jobs and a modern society up here. We cant be hunter gatherers forever. We need to adapt to new ways or our young will keep moving away south.

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    • Posted by Absolutely on

      Right on! A voice of reason. It is a shame that there aren’t more like yours. There are far too many in positions of influence who have an interest in sowing division and mistrust. It is Nunavut’s prime industry it seems.

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      • Posted by a lot of people on

        sit and comment on the side. Never doing just talking, you can’t fix a broken snowmobile on the side talking, go fix it yourself ‘IF’ you can.

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  6. Posted by Time will show on

    The time will come when mining companies will leave Nunavut because of all the difficulties they experience. The time will come when all southerners will leave Nunavut because they are not welcomed here. The time will come when the GN will have hundreds of vacant positions that need to be filled quickly, with under educated Nunavummiut. The time will come and tuktu will be gone. Not because of environmental mining impacts, it will be because of over hunting and global warming. The time will come when the Federal Government will stop supporting Nunavut financial, because the Canadians in Nunavut do not “like” the Federal Government.

    The time will come when you have what you always wanted. The land, the freedom, no southern impact, no need to go to school, no need to go to work….if there are any jobs anyway. Nunavut will be on its own, just like requested so many times.
    If Inuit do not learn to go with the time and at least try to live a successful traditional and corporate life at the same time, time will show how satisfying your wishes are

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    • Posted by Time Out on

      Time will come for you to realize that you have just made racist remarks about Inuit and posted your weak baseless wishes.

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