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Leaders of North Baffin communities warn of ‘rough ride’ for Baffinland, QIA pact

Iron ore from Baffinland's Mary River mine is stockpiled at the Milne Inlet port in June.. Photo courtesy of Baffinland Iron Mines

Mayors from two Qikiqtaaluk communities representing the North Baffin Community Group are advising that “trouble is brewing” as the proposed expansion of the Mary River iron mine is pitting five affected communities against their regional Inuit association.

Affected communities want the environmental assessment process to slow down as they are concerned about the expansion of the Mary RIver iron mine having detrimental effects on narwhal, caribou and other wildlife.
photo courtesy of Baffinland Iron Mines

The communique, circulated on Tuesday evening, critiques the Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA) and its president, P.J. Akeeagok, for signing an Inuit Certainty Agreement with Baffinland Iron Mines in June.

“The agreement commits the (QIA) to supporting the phase two expansion of the Mary River mine, provided certain conditions are met,” the news release reads. “The agreement, signed without consent of the affected communities, appears headed for a rough ride.”

The memorandum, which indicates Pond Inlet Mayor Joshua Arreak and Iglulik Mayor Merlyn Recinos can be contacted for further information, states that a July 17 teleconference among the affected communities “revealed considerable discomfort” with the Inuit Certainty Agreement. The other communities in question are Arctic Bay, Sanirajak and Clyde River.

The expansion of the mine, along with the increased shipping and the railway that would accompany it, could threaten the well-being of narwhal, caribou and other animals, according to the news release.

“Not satisfied with research conducted into potential impacts of the project, affected communities
want the environmental assessment process to slow down,” the document states, adding that Baffinland and the QIA stand to benefit financially from greater mine production.

“Concerns about investor confidence are driving a process with inter-generational implications for the social and cultural well-being of Inuit hunters and their families, dependent on sea mammals and other resources in the region,” the news release reads.

The affected communities are relaying their concerns to the Nunavut Impact Review Board and federal cabinet ministers who are ultimately responsible for acting on the Board’s recommendations, according to the news release.