Nunatsiaq News: Baffinland hearing abruptly ends, with sessions cancelled in Pond Inlet
The Nunavut Impact Review Board hearing on Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.’s proposed expansion of its Mary River mine has been abruptly adjourned, with two days of meetings in Pond Inlet now cancelled.
On Wednesday, Nov. 6, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. president Aluki Kotierk brought forward a motion to immediately suspend the final public hearing and defer its continuation for eight months to one year.
Whispers could be heard throughout the room as intervenors turned to their colleagues. Members of the audience turned their heads, looking for Baffinland’s reaction to what was unfolding.
Baffinland officials sat stone-faced, sometimes crossing their arms and looking down at the table as Kotierk spelled out the motion.
“We are concerned that we are going to conclude the public hearing when all things haven’t been finished. The people have to be consulted and have a meaningful discussion. Everyone around the table would like to understand everything that is being presented and how it’s going to affect NTI and organizations,” Kotierk said to a room packed with intervenors and the public.
P.J. Akeeagok, the Qikiqtani Inuit Association’s president, told Nunatsiaq News he had faith in the NIRB’s process to ensure “Inuit would have opportunities to ask good questions in terms of what’s important to them” and “allow community members to really voice their concerns that have been persistent.”
Akeeagok said the motion was not pre-conceived, but came together on the final day of the hearing.
“I think it just boiled down to there’s just too many outstanding questions that haven’t been resolved. From my perspective, if you’re going to make a decision for your future, you’ve got to ensure you have all the information available to make that sound decision. It just wasn’t quite there.”
Representatives from North Baffin communities all agreed with the motion.