Dozens of Pakua Shipi Innu from the Quebec Lower North Shore demonstrated their frustration over the Muskrat Falls project Wednesday by establishing a selective blockade on a section of the Trans-Labrador Highway.
The protest was established some 140 kilometres south of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, with about 20 Innu protesting what they call an “unacceptable” project.
The demonstrators are stopping Nalcor Energy vehicles from passing.
Guy Bellefleur, chief negotiator for Pakua Shipi, said his people’s right are being “completely trampled over” and ignored by the Newfoundland and Labrador government and Nalcor Energy, the Crown corporation responsible for the massive hydroelectric project now under construction.
In response, the Innu set up a campsite just off the highway, and say they are not moving until an agreement is reached.
The group feels they were not fairly consulted by Nalcor about the construction of a transmission line that they say passes through traditional Pakua Shipi land.
Seeking compensation in the form of jobs, training
Members of Pakua Shipi say they know they can’t stop the project, but would like both Nalcor and the Newfoundland and Labrador government to offer compensation in the form of jobs and training related to the project.
“My biggest concern is to see that we’re back in the ’60s, the ’70s; you know, get out of the way, the white man is going to pass. This is not acceptable,” added Francois Levesque.
The Quebec Innu are looking for what they describe as a fair and honourable compensation.
“The project is in the works. We’re fully aware that it’s virtually impossible to stop the project. Delaying the project, that we can do. And we will continue to do so until we are heard. Until we are respected,” said Bellefleur.
Nalcor officials say they are monitoring the situation closely and that their priority is the safety of their workers and the public.