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NunatuKavut Community Council in court in Halifax

NunatuKavut Community Council representatives were in Federal Court in Halifax Tuesday, making their case in a judicial review hearing related to the ongoing Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project.

The hearing on the case began Monday and is scheduled to run through today if required.

It provides the council a chance to make its case — a call for consultation and accommodation, specifically in relation to a permit issued by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans in 2013, allowing for progress on the Nalcor Energy-led project.

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The NunatuKavut Community Council does not have a settled land claim, but the project is located in an area where members assert a claim.

And the council says the permit — allowing for creation of a reservoir on the lower Churchill River at Muskrat Falls — was issued without proper consultation.

“The federal government made promises to consult with us and to accommodate our rights after the environmental assessment process, but then really didn’t do anything,” Todd Russell, president of the NunatuKavut Community Council, said in a statement. “They want to flood our land claim territory before our land claim is accepted. That is just not right.”

A ruling was issued against claims against the permit by the Nunatsiavut government, with its recognized and settled land claim, in mid-January.

An appeal to that decision is still under consideration, a spokesman confirmed Tuesday.

The Government of Nunatsiavut has until end of day Friday to file a notice of appeal if it chooses to do so.

The challenge, as originally presented, was specific to concerns over the potential for the hydroelectric development at Muskrat Falls to lead to methylmercury contamination downstream in Lake Melville, reaching into the Labrador Inuit Settlement Area.

Again, the issued centred on the duty to consult.

The application was dismissed by Justice David Orsborn, citing the overarching environmental assessment addressing methylmercury and unchallenged, subsequent decisions by both the provincial and federal governments to release the project from further assessment.



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