The Journal of Canadian

Wilderness Canoeing

  SUMMER 2002











In this issue

Front Page


Spring Run

Summer Packet


From the Editor





The premiers of Quebec and Newfoundland announced they have hammered out the basics of the $4-billion Gull Island hydro-electric project on the lower Churchill River in Labrador.

Although the agreement of the Innu people of Labrador must be secured first, both Bernard Landry and Roger Grimes said they expect to put their signatures on a deal within two months.

Gull Island, which is 150 miles further downstream from Churchill Falls on the Churchill River, will generate 2,000 megawatts of power, create more than 8,300 person-years of employment and leave a relatively soft environmental footprint.

The principles of the deal, which must still be finalized, stipulate that Newfoundland will maintain 100-per-cent ownership of the production and transmission facilities, but it will sell 100 per cent of the power generated to Hydro-Québec.

Newfoundland will have recall rights on the electricity sold.

A long-term contract will be hammered out containing an escalator clause to ensure the power is always sold to Quebec at a price reflecting its true market value over time.

This differs from the 40-year-old Churchill Fall agreement, which sold power to Quebec at a low fixed price, causing Newfoundlanders to feel cheated after the market rate for power went up dramatically.

No rivers will have to be redirected for this new project. There will be 85 square kilometres of land flooded and a 200-square-kilometre reservoir will be constructed, along with a dam.

The work is expected to last six years.

Since becoming premier in 2000, Landry has inked deals, mainly with the Cree of northern Quebec, to allow creation of a total of 10,000 megawatts of electricity.

Innu on both sides of the border gave a cold reception to the announcement  Peter Penashue, leader of about 2,000 Innu in Labrador, says the Innu nation wants to settle the question of territorial rights first.

On another front, Labrador’s two aboriginal peoples have endorsed impact and benefit agreements with Inco Ltd. and the government of Newfoundland on Inco’s proposal to build a $470-million mine and mill at Voisey’s Bay near Nain.

This removes the last legal obstacles to development of the site, which Inco bought for $4 billion in 1996.

Of the 2,000 members of the Labrador Inuit Association who cast ballots, 82 per cent voted to approve Inco’s deal with the Labrador Inuit Association.

As for the Innu Nation, about 600 of their members cast ballots, 68 per cent in favour.

The Reuters news service reported that Inco will likely go ahead with preliminary work on the massive project, pending a final legal agreement that’s expected to be sealed and signed this fall. Reuters also said that Inco will pay the Innu and Inuit nearly $300 million over the next 30 years.

The impact and benefit agreements are intended to guarantee minimum levels of Inuit and Innu participation in various jobs and business opportunities that the Voisey’s Bay project will generate.

Prospectors first discovered the Voisey’s Bay site, which is a 40-minute motorboat ride from Nain, in 1993, when tests confirmed a major find of copper and cobalt. In 1994, further tests showed that the site may contain the largest nickel deposit in the world, and in 1995, Inco bought the site. But declining metal prices made the site look less attractive and Inco began to reassess the project in 1997. Later, Inco and Newfoundland butted heads over the question of a Newfoundland-based smelter.

But after Roger Grimes became premier in 2001, replacing the hard-line Brian Tobin, the project began to move forward.


The $8.5-million feature film The Snow Walker will be filmed in Churchill, Manitoba, despite five months spent trying to bring the project to Nunavut. The film is based on two Farley Mowat books set in the western Hudson Bay coast area, and producers wanted to film the story in its authentic setting.

They approached the Nunavut government with a proposal to bring the shooting north. And the province of Manitoba put close to $1 million in incentives on the table to try and attract the production to Churchill. Producer John Houston has worked since  January on the project and said it was  ever expected that Nunavut could match Manitoba’s offer. 

“It was more a direct request of a certain amount of money which seemed to fit the Nunavut situation,” he explained. “Nunavut clearly does not have as big a labour pool developed in film as Manitoba, so Manitoba could offer a higher incentive knowing it would provide work for more of its residents.”

Producers initially asked for a total of $625,000 to be broken down into a $500,000 location incentive and $125,000 toward Inuit training for a six-week shoot near Rankin Inlet. The location incentive is based on what the crew would spend there, and was meant to help level the playing field between Nunavut and Manitoba. The hamlet of Rankin Inlet offered $50,000 and waited for other organizations to follow suit. The Kivalliq office of the department of sustainable development said it could match that amount pending approval. But no more money came and the project seemed to fizzle until Houston received a memo from the production company telling him to go to Churchill with the art director and other crew members to scout out the location.

The hamlet responded immediately and invited Houston and another producer to a meeting with officials from the hamlet, NTI and Kivalliq Inuit Association. An additional $150,000 was secured after that meeting, and DSD in Iqaluit offered another $50,000, for a total of $300,000 - but it still wasn’t enough. The producers then submitted a counter offer – two weeks of filming for a commitment of $365,000. That would allow the major film sequences to be shot in Nunavut, with the film company committing to spending a minimum of $800,000 in the community.

Houston said they never received a response, and with the clock ticking they had to go with Churchill. Shooting was scheduled to start July 15. Houston said he doesn’t want to point fingers, but what it comes down to is the production companies are catching the government and Inuit organizations with no film policy in place. “Here is an $8.5-million Canadian feature that was absolutely determined to film entirely in Nunavut if anybody would let them,” he said. This year, the Government of Nunavut has spent about $200,000 on film projects ranging from script development for Ann Hanson’s IMAX film to helping Igloolik Isuma Productions go to the Cannes Film Festival. Houston said in January there were scripts on his desk totalling $23 million from people wanting to film in Nunavut. Now that has fallen to $14.5 million with The Snow Walker going to Churchill.


As Quebec prepares for a massive new hydroelectric project on rivers flowing into James Bay, the people of Sanikiluaq say Nunavut must ensure that their voices are heard. The concerns were raised shortly after the James Bay Cree signed multi-billion-dollar agreements with Quebec and its power company, Hydro-Québec. The deal clears away all legal obstacles to hydroelectric developments on the Rupert River, which empties into James Bay, several hundred kilometres south of Sanikiluaq.

After that, the Inuit of Nunavik signed their own billion-dollar deal, with provisions for similar developments along the Hudson and Ungava Bay coasts. Sanikiluaq’s environment committee wants the Nunavut government to lobby for the idea that Hudson Bay and James Bay be considered one region - a massive inland sea. But in the recent agreements struck with Hydro-Québec, the Crees and Nunavimiut, there are no provisions that involve Sanikiluaq or Nunavut. Hudson Bay is where mining and sewage is dumped. Minerals and ore are dumped into the rivers that flow into our ocean.

People in Sanikiluaq remember how they were ignored during the environmental review of the Great Whale hydroelectric project 10 years ago. Hydro-Québec then refused to include offshore areas in its environmental assessment, despite guidelines requiring the power corporation to look at the project’s impact on the Belcher Islands and Hudson Bay. Hunters and elders say dammed rivers from past hydro projects have changed water levels, water quality and bird migration patterns. One hunter said goose meat has declined in quality. Another elder said he’s worried about possible flooding of grave sites. When the Great Whale project was still, alive, Sanikiluaq’s environment committee was enraged when Hydro-Québec wanted the treeless community to evaluate the impact of the Great Whale project on forests. Some call for Sanikiluaq and the Nunavut government to come up with an action plan together, so that the community’s voice will be heard this time.


 Summer 2002         Outfit 109 

<< Previous  Page  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10   Next >>

Home   Che-Mun   Rupert Battle   Rupert River   Temagami

  Forum   Crees   Camps   Canoes   Keewaydin Way   Search   About   Contact Us

Maps and information herein are not intended for navigational use, and are not represented to be correct in every respect.

All pages intended for reference use only, and all pages are subject to change with new information and without notice.

The author/publisher accepts no responsibility or liability for use of the information on these pages.

Wilderness travel and canoeing possess inherent risk.

It is the sole responsibility of the paddler and outdoor traveler to determine whether he/she is qualified for these activities.

We do not endorse and are not responsible for the content of any linked documents.

Ottertooth Copyright © 2000-2009 Brian Back. All rights reserved.

Che-Mun Copyright © 2002-2009 Michael Peake. All rights reserved.