Innu Nation sues Hydro-Quebec


The Innu Nation of Labrador announced Oct. 6 that it is seeking $4 billion in damages from Hydro-Quebec over its mega-dam on the Upper Churchill River. The suit, filed in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland & Labrador, seeks compensation for the theft of ancestral Innu land in 1967 to build the Churchill Falls hydro-electric project, leading to devastation of their community’s culture and way of life. “The impact of Churchill Falls has been felt across generations of Innu. What happened, it was not right. Our elders deserved better treatment then, and we demand better treatment now,” said Grand Chief Etienne Rich. He charged that Hydro-Quebec and the provincial utility in Newfoundland, now called Nalcor Energy, “stole our land and flooded it in order to take advantage of the enormous hydro potential of the Churchill Falls. This project was undertaken without consulting us and without our consent.”

New York City is pinning many of its hopes to cut carbon emissions on imported Canadian hydro-power, but environmentalist opponents point to the impact of planned hydro projects on indigenous lands in Canada’s North. The New York State Public Service Commission is expected to act this month on pending approval of subsidies, paid for by utility customers, for conversion to so-called “renewable energy”—including Canadian hydro-power. Purchases of this power would fund the long-stalled Champlain-Hudson Power Express transmission line that would run 330 miles from Canada to New York City and carry 1,000 megawatts of electricity from Hydro‑Quebec, facilitating a new thrust of development in the Canadian North. (The Labrador Voice, CBC News, Politico)

Many Hydro-Quebec development projects have been mired in scandal and controversy, and are meeting with resistance from the Innu and other indigenous peoples.

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Image: Innu Nation