Aglukkaq ignoring concerns of Nunavummiut: Greenpeace
“We are being called on to support communities where government is failing to protect the rights and interests of its own people"
Greenpeace fired back at Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq July 22, suggesting the federal environment minister has failed to respond to the concerns of Nunavummiut about proposed seismic activities in Baffin Bay.
The environmental group was responding to comments Aglukkaq made in a keynote speech to the Inuit Circumpolar Council general assembly in Inuvik, Northwest Territories this week, where she criticized Greenpeace’s efforts to make amends with Inuit groups.
In her speech, Aglukkaq warned that environmental groups were using Aboriginal groups to fight their own battles, and encouraged Inuit to stand for their traditional way of life.
But the minister stopped short of addressing the National Energy Board’s recent approval of a five-year seismic testing scheme in the waters of Baffin Bay and Davis Strait off eastern Nunavut – an issue meeting opposition in the nearby community of Clyde River and other communities in north Baffin.
And that’s a fight Greenpeace says it supports, the organization said in a July 22 news release.
“To date, the concerns of Clyde River have been ignored by the federal government, the National Energy Board, and the oil industry,” said Farrah Khan, Greenpeace’s Canadian Arctic campaigner.
“If Minister Aglukkaq acted as a steward for the Arctic environment — as an environment minister and chair of the Arctic Council should — then she would be listening to the concerns of northerners and acting on them.”
Groups like Greenpeace and the Clyde River-based Fight Against Seismic Testing say proposed seismic testing activities in Baffin Bay will have severe impacts on marine life and the traditional Inuit lifestyle.
“Inuit communities are on the front-lines of climate change and are now on the front-lines of the new Arctic oil rush,” Khan said in the July 22 release.
“They will be the first impacted by seismic testing and oil spills and they have a right to be consulted and, when ignored, they have a right to reach out to allies to support their fight.”
Greenpeace has argued that affected communities must be consulted and give their free, prior, and informed consent, as agreed to in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Members of Clyde River’s Fight Against Seismic Testing are hosting a protest against the seismic surveys July 23, and asking other Nunavut communities to take part.