Thursday, September 30, 2010

Chruchill Development Beginning Prematurely

Letter to the Editor of "The Labradorian"

I’m very confused and angry. Why has the government and Hydro started preparing for the dams already? There has been no vote or referendum. The people have not agreed to this and yet it looks like the government is already starting. At Muskrat Falls they have started cutting trees and from the dump road they are making it new in order to bring their machines through. Aren’t they supposed to wait until the Innu people make a decision? This is our land and our river. The government should wait. No one has said, “Yes, go ahead.” Why are they starting so quickly? Every time when the government starts doing a new project, like with Voisey’s Bay and now with the Churchill River Dams, they always ask the Innu youth to come and work. But they are just using them so they won’t say anything. A lot of young people from Sheshatshiu are already working cutting trees at Muskrat. Young Innu people also went to work in Voisey’s, but now there are very few Innu working there. Several years ago with the low level flying protests, many people came together to talk and to fight. But money is so strong now; it has changed people’s minds. Now even the women want more money. Yet, the more money we get, the more we fight amongst ourselves.

This summer we went on the canoe trip again along the Mista-Shipu from August 24 to September 1. There were 6 canoes and 13 people. I’ve done this 13 years now. The canoe trip is not easy. It’s very difficult work, paddling long days. I’m not doing this just for fun; I’m doing this because it’s so important to me and important for the land and my people.

Every summer when I’ve gone on the canoe trip, I feel like I’m surrounded by human beings—the trees, river, mountains—all living, growing things. It hurts me to think about all these things dying. I know animals don’t talk, but I feel like they are saying they want to live. I think about all the people who have hunted and traveled along the Mista-Shipu for all these thousands of years. When the water floods from the dam, all this will be lost. I don’t want to see again what happened in Churchill Falls so many years ago. We lost so many things—burial grounds, Innu hunting areas and many animals. I want to protect the river for all the children. There are many, many children and will be more. I don’t know how many tears I’m going to cry if I see this dam built. When I started the canoe trips, I thought it would make a difference. I feel very sad now.

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