HAPPY VALLEY-GOOSE BAY - Two Labrador women representing Grand Riverkeeper Labrador, Inc. and the Labrador Land Protectors are on a speaking tour to educate the Muskrat Falls end users about the controversy surrounding the project. Roberta Benefiel of Grand Riverkeeper Labrador, Inc. told the Labradorian that the idea for the tour, titled “Megadams, Megadamage,” was something they had been thinking about for a while
“The impetus was when Emera sent in a proposal to take power from New Brunswick windmills, backed up with Muskrat Falls power, and send it to New England,” she said. “At that point I started reaching out to people I knew in New England and we took it from there.”
The tour aims to “raise awareness about the negative cultural, environmental and financial impacts of hydroelectric power generated by Megadams in Canada,” according to a press release the group issued. Benefiel said people who will be purchasing the power need to be aware of the issues surrounding it.
“They’re going to be the purchasers of this power, the ones buying this dirty project that we know as Muskrat Falls,” she said. “The project that’s liable to drown people in Mud Lake, and very liable to poison the food and may put the province into bankruptcy at the rate its going.”
Benefiel and Amy Norman, who is representing the LLP, have already spoken in Halifax, Nova Scotia and Maine. They are also speaking in Massachusetts, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.
“Muskrat Falls threatens our very existence as Inuit,” said Norman in the press release. “It is poisoning our food webs, and contaminating the country foods we depend on, both physically and spiritually. It is forcing us to cut ties with the land. To continue this project knowing the damage it will cause is cultural genocide.”
Benefiel said they have hooked up with about 15 organizations across New England, including Friends of the Hudson, the New Community Project in Vermont and the Citizens Climate Lobby, and they will say to them ‘you need to know how dirty and how dangerous this power is.’ They will also be talking about Gull Island, the proposed hydroelectric project also on the Churchill River.
They want to make sure the Gull Island dam never sees the light of day, she said, and is concerned it is already being discussed behind closed doors. She wants to see more money put into renewable, sustainable energy sources.
“The groups that we’ve talked to already don’t want to see their money going to Hydro Quebec, rather than being put in real alternatives and real projects being built for jobs in their own regions,” she said. “These people are at the other end of this power line and the purpose of this tour is to say to them this is what’s happening. Our indigenous people are being run over; our province is going to go broke because of this project.”
For more information on the tour visit http://www.grandriverkeeperlabrador.ca/.