The following statement was read Friday June 17th by Nunatsiavut President Johannes Lampe during a noon-hour demonstration at the Happy Valley-Goose Bay office of the Hon. Perry Trimper, Minister of Environment and Conservation and MHA for Lake Melville:
“This is just the beginning. I’m here today to tell you that we are all united. We are here to tell Minister Trimper and the Government of Newfoundland that we have had enough.
The time has come to stand together, shoulder to shoulder, and to say that we will not stand by and allow our way of life, our culture, and our future to be taken away from us.
The Nunatsiavut Government is extremely displeased with Minister Trimper’s decision on mitigating impacts to Inuit health related to the Muskrat Falls project. We are not only talking about Inuit health, but the health of all users of Lake Melville and those who live downstream from the project.
The Nunatsiavut Government and our research partners have spent four years ensuring that science (including Inuit knowledge) and the precautionary principles are at the forefront of evidence-based policy and decision-making, especially as Inuit health, culture and rights are at stake.
Methyl mercury is toxic to humans and bio-accumulates in aquatic environments. Minister Trimper did not agree to any of the four solutions put forward by the Nunatsiavut Government to Make Muskrat Right.
In making and defending his decision the Minister simply cherry-picked information from the Harvard studies. He did not make his decision based on science. He certainly didn’t take into account the concerns of our people, the health of our people, and our way of life.
Minister Trimper’s mandate letter stated, and I quote: “to follow the principles of openness, transparency and accountability. It is my intention to ensure policy decisions in government are informed by research, evidence, and evaluation so that citizens can understand how and why decisions are made. It is critical that our government’s decisions are also informed by engagement with stakeholders, including our Aboriginal partners, to ensure everyone’s voices are heard.” End of quote.
In reviewing the decision from the Minister, it is difficult for us to understand the transparency and accountability that was put in to it. The Harvard comprehensive research is independent, peer-reviewed science by experts in their field. The Minister has chosen to cheery pick parts of this science and not consider the overall science in the receiving environment and how it works together to sustain Inuit.
The Minister has continued the colonial attitude to rape Indigenous people of their rights and pay us off if need be. (Let’s offer them a little money, they will go away attitude).
This is unacceptable. He has put more value in “the protection of fish habitat upstream”, than the value of Inuit health and rights downstream.
The Newfoundland Government has again shown that it cannot be trusted and is not accountable to evidence-based decisions.
We will continue to pursue all avenues to Make Muskrat Right. Let me make one thing perfectly clear: “Flooding of the Muskrat Falls reservoir shall not be permitted until full clearing is carried out.” It’s as simple as that. As I said, this is just the beginning. Thank you for your support.”