Greenlanders Protest Uranium Mining

On September 13, 2013, an open parliament meeting was held in Nuuk Greenland on the possibility of overturning a long-standing ban on uranium mining in the country. A group of Greenlandic citizens showed up to protest the meeting, expressing their continued opposition to uranium mining.

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AREVA responds to technical comments for Kiggavik Impact Statement

On May 8, AREVA Resources submitted responses to technical comments on its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). Technical comments were submitted in early April by a wide range of institutions, including Nunavummiut Makitagunarningit, the Baker Lake Hunters and Trappers Organization, the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, and a variety of departments from the Government of Nunavut and the Federal Government of Canada.

The technical comments, as well as AREVA’s responses, can be accessed here.

The next step in the review of AREVA’s proposal is a technical meeting in Rankin Inlet (May 27-31). The technical meeting will be a meeting between AREVA, the various intervener groups, and the Nunavut Impact Review Board staff.

Following the technical meeting, outstanding issues will be discussed at a community roundtable and pre hearing conference in Baker Lake (June 4-6).

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Parties submit technical comments on AREVA’s Draft EIS

On April 11, the Nunavut Impact Review Board uploaded technical comments that various parties submitted regarding AREVA Resource’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Kiggavik uranium project. Comments were submitted by Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, the Government of Nunavut, various Federal Government departments, the Baker Lake Hunters and Trappers Organization, the Canadian Arctic Resources Committee, the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board, and Nunavummiut Makitagunarningit.

AREVA has until May 8 to respond to the technical comments.

The technical comments can be accessed here.

A letter from NIRB to AREVA, discussing the technical comments and describing the next steps in the review process, can be accessed here.

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Nunavummiut Makitagunarningit submission to UN study on extractive industries in indigenous territories

Nunavummiut Makitagunarningit has made a submission to the study on extractive and energy industries in and near indigenous territories being conducted by Prof.  James Anaya, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The submission explains that since it was formed in November 2009, Nunavummiut Makitagunarningit has lobbied the institutions created by the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement to provide mechanisms to ensure the free, prior, and informed consent of Inuit in questions regarding uranium and other mineral extraction in the territory.

The submission documents that the experience of Nunavummiut to date has been rather the opposite of free, prior, and informed consent: that all key uranium-related decisions taken by institutions created by settlement of the NLCA have been made behind closed doors. These institutions have avoided the issue of democratic consent at all costs, opting instead for carefully controlled “consultations” with no real mandate to assess community consent in any meaningful way. The mining industry has been overrepresented in these “consultations”, to the point that both NTI and the GN relied on industry consultants for supposedly unbiased and impartial policy “advice”.

The submission repeats Makita’s call for a public inquiry into uranium mining, to be followed by free and democratic votes – by the residents of Baker Lake and among NLCA beneficiaries – on the wisdom of opening the door to who-knows-how-many uranium mines in Nunavut… with all the cumulative effects they would entail.

 

The website of Prof. Anaya’s study is http://unsr.jamesanaya.info/study-extractives/index.php/en

Makita’s submission can be found on our website at http://makitanunavut.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/2013-04-01-makita-to-james-anaya1.pdf

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Inuit Association opposes heritage river designation for Back River

On February 21, 2013 the Kivalliq Inuit Association wrote to the Government of Nunavut, indicating that it does not support the nomination of the Back River for Canadian Heritage River status. The letter stated that the KIA opposes the heritage river designation because the KIA owns surface and subsurface rights to some parcels of land in the area that hold significant economic potential.

The KIA’s letter can be accessed here.

Moses Aupaluktuq, MLA for Baker Lake, raised the issue in Nunavut’s Legislative Assembly on March 18, 2013. 

 

Bill 49 – Appropriation (Operations & Maintenance) Act, 2013-2014 – Environment 
– Consideration in Committee
 
Mr. Aupaluktuq: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. On page 133 of the business plan, the 
priorities for 2013-14, second bullet, correction, third bullet indicates complete 
negotiations for an umbrella Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement for Canadian Heritage 
Rivers in Nunavut. Followed by the fourth bullet with the support of residents of 
Kugaaruk and Baker Lake, which would include Gjoa Haven, to develop formal 
nomination development for Back River and present to the Canadian Heritage Rivers 
board for consideration.
 
Can the minister update the Committee of the current status of the nomination of Back 
River as a Canadian Heritage River? Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
 
Chairman (interpretation): Thank you, Mr. Aupaluktuq. Minister Arreak.
 
Hon. James Arreak (interpretation): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Pinksen can 
respond to his question. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
 
Chairman (interpretation): Thank you. Mr. Pinksen.
 
Mr. Pinksen: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The discussions are ongoing, but fairly recently 
the Kivalliq Inuit Association raised a number of concerns with the nomination of Back 
River. We have met with them just last month to discuss those concerns and those 
discussions are ongoing.
 
The concerns related to possible impacts of a Heritage River nomination on development, 
so we met with them just last month and those discussions are ongoing. We are still 
pursuing the designation. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
 
Chairman (interpretation): Thank you, Mr. Pinksen. Mr. Aupaluktuq.
 
Mr. Aupaluktuq: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the fact that the department 
does acknowledge that there was a letter submitted from the Kivalliq Inuit Association 
stating that they do not support the nomination of Back River, “that it has significant 
economic potential.”
 
There is some confusion from constituents as well as the process on, as well, from 
myself, that the priorities and as well as an opening comment prior that the environmental 
concerns is for the benefit and the protection of Inuit in Nunavut under their land claim 
agreement.
 
It appears to be that the regional Inuit organization opposes this, based on the benefits of 
significant economic potential. In noting that the letter was received and the department 
has indicated that they are still ongoing with the nomination of Back River, I am glad that 
that was documented for the record.
 
I want to ask; has the department received any other such letter from any other Inuit 
representatives on the nomination? Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
 
Chairman (interpretation): Thank you, Mr. Aupaluktuq. Minister Arreak.
 
Hon. James Arreak (interpretation): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. To date, we have not 
received any further correspondence aside from the Kivalliq Inuit Association. They are 
the only ones we have received correspondence from on this matter. Thank you, Mr. 
Chairman.
 
Chairman (interpretation): Thank you, Minister Arreak. Mr. Aupaluktuq.
 
Mr. Aupaluktuq (interpretation): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I definitely will be 
consulting with my Baker Lake constituents in the hopes of resolving this issue and help 
them gain a full understanding. We will need to learn all the facts involved to come up 
with a solution, and to determine whether there will be sufficient support for the 
nominations.
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Caribou Board Concerned About Timing of Community Meetings; Review Board Confirms Meetings Scheduled for Spring

On February 25, 2013, The Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board (BQCMB) wrote to the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB). In the letter, the BQCMB expressed concern with the tentative schedule for technical and community meetings for AREVA’s proposed Kiggavik uranium mine.

Previously, the NIRB had indicated that technical and community meetings  were tentatively scheduled for late May and early June of 2013. The BQCMB letter claimed that holding meetings at this time would impede the participation of hunters, because late May and early June are important hunting seasons.

This follows similar complaints from Nunavummiut Makitagunarningit and The North Slave Métis Alliance, both of which asked the NIRB to reschedule community meetings for the fall of 2013. The NIRB responded to Nunavummiut Makitagunarningit by refusing to reschedule meetings for the fall. However, the NIRB committed to consulting with communities about the specific dates for meetings.

On February 27, the NIRB confirmed that the meetings will take place in late May and early June. The NIRB made no reference to the BQCMB’s letter. Nor did the NIRB refer to the community consultations regarding meeting times promised in the previous letter to Nunavummiut Makitagunarningit.

Letter to Nunavut Impact Review Board. (December 3, 2012) Nunavummiut Makitagunarningit

Letter to Nunavut Impact Review Board. (December 6, 2012) North Slave Métis Alliance

Letter to Nunavummiut Makitagunarningit. (December 7, 2012) Nunavut Impact Review Board

BQCMB Letter to NIRB: -Comments on Kiggavik Technical Review Timeline (February 25, 2013)

NIRB Letter: Technical Meeting and Conference Schedule; Technical Comment Forms (February 27, 2013) Nunavut Impact Review Board

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Letter from Grise Fiord to AANDC expresses concerns with proposed coal exploration

The Hunters and Trappers Organization, Hamlet Council and Community Lands and Resources Committee from Grise Fiord sent a letter to Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development on February 14, 2013. The letter expressed concern and opposition to proposed coal exploration, due in part to the location of the proposed activity in important wildlife habitat and hunting grounds.

The letter can be accessed here.

Coverage from Nunatsiaq News can be accessed here.

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Review board announces next steps for review of AREVA’s proposed Kiggavik uranium mine

On February 6, 2013 the Nunavut Impact Review Board announced that they have approved AREVA’s responses to Information Requests. This announcement marks the commencement of the technical review of AREVA’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

Included in the announcement was information about the next steps in the review process, including technical comments, technical meetings, a pre-hearing conference and a community round table session. The following timetable was included in the announcement.

February 6, 2013: Commencement of the 60 day public comment period. Parties are
asked to provide their technical review comments on a number of
specific points, outlined below.

February 27, 2013: NIRB to confirm dates for Technical Meeting and the PHC.

April 8, 2013: Submission of technical review comments to the NIRB by 12:00 pm
MST.

May 8, 2013: AREVA to provide response to technical review comments.

May 13, 2013: Circulation of draft agenda for the NIRB technical meeting.

May 28-31, 2013: Technical Meeting in Rankin Inlet (tentative). The objective of the
Technical Meeting would be to clarify and resolve technical issues in
the DEIS.

June 4-6, 2013: Community roundtable and Pre-Hearing Conference (PHC) in Baker
Lake (tentative).

July 4, 2013: NIRB to issue its PHC Report for the Kiggavik Project.

Information about each of these phases is available in English and Inuktitut.

A “process map” of the review, that includes anticipated timelines for each of these steps, is available in English and Inuktitut.

Information and commentary about Information Requests submitted to AREVA are available here.

AREVA’s responses to Information Requests are available here.

Links to more information about the review of AREVA’s Kiggavik proposal are available here.

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AREVA responds to information requests

AREVA has submitted its responses to Information Requests to the Nunavut Impact Review Board.

AREVA’s responses to Information Requests are available here.

More information and commentary about the Information Requests submitted by various organizations are available here.

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Nunavummiut Makitagunarningit supports Idle No More

Nunavummiut Makitagunarningit stands in solidarity with our Indigenous brothers and sisters who are standing up for their rights. We back Inuit organizing flash mobs in Iqaluit, marching in cities across Canada, and continuing to stand up in communities across Nunavut to voice their concerns about the pace and scale of resource development on our lands.

As the name of the movement suggests, the Idle No More protests are about more than grievances with recent Federal legislation. Broadly, they are about grassroots Indigenous peoples standing up and declaring that they will not sit idle while their rights to land and relationship with the state are being altered without their consent. In this way, Idle No More is a call for all Indigenous peoples to awaken from within and resist the oppressive mechanisms that keep them in their place.

Nunavummiut increasingly recognize that, despite our land claim, our rights are also at stake as part of the Indigenous community in Canada. Resource development projects are approved no matter what is being said by Nunavummiut, with little regard for the protection of land, community control over resources, or the incorporation of Inuit culture into decision-making processes that Inuit fought so hard to secure. The land claim agreement was about Inuit having a say on what happens to us and our land, we continue to stand up and demand better.

Many Nunavummiut support some mining proposals, but they also want to make decisions on their own terms, according to their own language, culture, and values, and in ways that ensure the long-term well-being of our nuna. Nunavummiut are deeply concerned that the Government of Nunavut and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated have both passed pro-uranium mining policies without any public votes or proper discussion through a public inquiry. Impact and Benefit Agreements are negotiated with the mining industry in secret, without any public consultation. Reviews of mine proposals do not provide any opportunity for communities to vote on the proposals being considered. The review process does not require the mining industry to translate important documents into Inuktitut. Review schedules do not accord to Inuit seasonal activities, with meetings often taking place during the height of hunting seasons.

Nunavummiut expect better from our leaders and decision-makers than acceding to Harper’s agenda to exploit our lands. We encourage all Canadians to stand up and demand that our leaders revisit pro-uranium policies, engage in public consultations around Impact and Benefit Agreements, hold community plebiscites for all mining proposals and make more space for Inuit culture in environmental reviews.

Nunavummiut have expressed concerns that a draft land use plan for Nunavut, which the Nunavut Planning Commission is in the process of presenting to communities, does not contain any restrictions on mining in caribou calving grounds. The consultation schedule released by the planning commission does not seem to include an opportunity for communities to select lands they want protected from mining. If Nunavut really is to operate as an Inuit homeland, allowing Inuit to decide what lands they want protected should be the basis of land use planning.

We are also concerned about changing treaty relationships without proper consultation. The Northern Jobs and Growth Act, intended to implement parts of the land claims agreement and provide greater certainty to the mining industry, is currently making its way through parliament. The Government of Nunavut, the institutions of public government and the representative Inuit organizations have all been consulted over this legislation. However, there have been no consultations with communities in Nunavut. It seems precarious precedents are being set on our relationship with the state. Our leaders may well be negotiating away our land claims rights, without any public engagement from those they are supposed to serve.

Inuit have been standing up and demanding more transparent, accountable, and responsible forms of governance, and we recognize that our hopes for Nunavut will only be strengthened by standing in solidarity with all the other Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples who are declaring that they will be idle no more. We urge our leaders to reorient development in Nunavut in a way that puts Inuit aspirations, and the well-being of the land and all Nunavummiut, ahead of corporate profits. Further, we hope our leaders will stand with us in solidarity with Indigenous peoples across Canada who are fighting for the well-being of all peoples and lands. Kanatammiut Makitagunarningit – the people of Canada can rise up!

[.pdf version]

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