Uranium lobby group dumps on Nunavut board over spring meetings
Nunavummiut Makitagunarningit says NIRB could “discredit” itself
The Nunavummiut Makitagunarningit lobby group accused the Nunavut Impact Review Board Dec. 3 of preventing Baker Lake Inuit from participating in meetings on Areva Canada’s Kiggavik uranium project — because those meetings are scheduled for the spring.
”Doing so may discredit NIRB as an institution that really serves Nunavummiut,” the NM group said in a letter.
That’s because the review board proposes holding a technical meeting from May 28 to May 31 next year, followed by a pre-hearing conference June 4 to June 6, each of which will look at Areva’s draft environmental impact statement for Kiggavik.
Between now and then, Areva will have responded — by Jan. 31, 2013 — to a long list of information requests submitted by a variety of government agencies and other organizations.
After distributing Areva’s answers to those questions in early February, the review board will seek comments related to the upcoming technical review of the FEIS and received responses from Areva.
Then they’ll move the process into the May 28-31 technical meeting.
But those dates, NM said, will make it hard for many Baker Lake residents to attend those meetings and prepare for them.
“As you are fully aware, during the spring many Inuit in Baker Lake and other communities spend a great deal of time on the land. The long daylight hours and mild weather is the time for family camping, hunting and fishing,” the group said.
And this, NM said, prevents “their proper participation in an important political process.”
Because of this, NM suggested NIRB may be in breach of its own guidelines, which state that the review board must “give due regard and weight to the tradition of Inuit oral communication and decision-making.”
The group also said the spring meetings may be in breach of Article 12.2.27 of the Nunavut land claims agreement, which says all necessary steps must be taken to schedule meetings to maximize public participation.
“Holding these meetings in the spring would serve to do the opposite,” NM said.
Derek Ehaloak, the environmental administrator at the review board, said in an email that NIRB will respond to NM soon.
Meanwhile, the North Slave Métis Alliance said Dec. 6 that they they support the NM request.
“Spring and summer are always frantically busy for us, meaning both our staff and our members, who are involved in on-the-land activities,” the Métis letter said.
The Métis group said they have an interest in “the historic transportation route between Hudson Bay and Great Slave Lake, as well as the Ahiak caribou herd, whose range does cover a portion of our traditional territory.”
The environmental review process for the Kiggavik uranium project began in March 2010.
Areva Canada submitted its first draft environmental impact statement in December 2011, but was required to submit a new one after NIRB found it didn’t conform to the review board’s guidelines.
Areva resubmitted the document in April 2012.
Under the NIRB’s proposed schedule, the project could move into final hearings by mid-fall of 2013.
The Kiggavik uranium project, about 80 km from Baker Lake, would likely cost at least $2.1 billion to build and create hundreds of jobs over its 14-year lifespan.