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.
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
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
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
will have recall rights on the electricity sold.
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
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.
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.
work is expected to last six years.
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.
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.
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
removes the last legal obstacles to development of the
site, which Inco bought for $4 billion in 1996.
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.
for the Innu Nation, about 600 of their members cast
ballots, 68 per cent in favour.
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.
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.
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.
after Roger Grimes became premier in 2001, replacing the
hard-line Brian Tobin, the project began to move
$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.
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.
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.”
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.