Indigenous leaders describe ties to Churchill River at Muskrat Falls inquiry


Published Tuesday, September 18, 2018 11:57AM ADT

Last Updated Tuesday, September 18, 2018 12:54PM ADT

HAPPY VALLEY GOOSE BAY, N.L. — Indigenous leaders testifying at the Muskrat Falls inquiry in Happy Valley-Goose Bay today are sharing their historical connection to the Churchill River, where the massive Labrador dam will eventually harness power.

Carl McLean, speaking on behalf of the Nunatsiavut government, opened the day’s proceedings with an oral history of the Labrador Inuit’s use of the river and continued reliance on the waterway for food, travel and lodging.

Representatives from the Innu Nation, NunatuKavut Community Council and the Quebec-based Conseil des Innus d’Ekuanitshit are also scheduled to testify on the river’s importance to their communities.

The independent inquiry, led by provincial Supreme Court Justice Richard LeBlanc, will examine how the hydroelectric project was approved and executed, and why it was exempt from oversight from the Public Utilities Board.

Indigenous leaders also plan to testify later in the inquiry about their concerns over the potential threat of methylmercury poisoning in local wild food sources downstream.

Hearings began Monday and will conclude in August 2019, with a final report expected by Dec. 31.

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