28 people involved in protests against the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project in Labrador charged

(A group of land protectors occupy the offices of Nalcor Energy, the provincial agency in charge of the Muskrat Falls energy project. A number of the occupiers have had criminal charges laid against them. Photo: Justin Brake)

Trina Roache
APTN National News
The RCMP in Labrador have charged more than two dozen people in relation to the protest that took place in October 2016 against the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project about 30 kilometres west of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, NFLD.

That’s when rallies against the massive project picked up steam. Three people went on a hunger strike, dozens camped outside the Muskrat Falls construction gates, and about 35 people occupied the offices of Nalcor Energy, a provincial corporation for a short time shutting down operations for several days.

While dozens of people have faced civil charges for violating a court injunction obtained by Nalcor last year, these are the first criminal charges come out of an ongoing investigation by the RCMP.

18 men and 10 women face a total of 60 charges including:

• Disobeying a court order
• Mischief over $5000
• Mischief
• Taking a motor vehicle without consent
• Breaches of a court order

In a media release, the RCMP said it respects and protects the right to peaceful demonstrations as guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Watch video from the Land Protectors being charged here: Muskrat Falls

Not everyone involved has been served.

Innu Elder Bart Jack lives in Sheshatshui and is waiting to hear whether he’ll be charged.

Jack describes the rallies and occupation of the Muskrat Falls site as peaceful.

“We were all together, the settlers, Inuit and Innu,” said Jack. “It all culminated in the fact that we appreciated each other and felt had a common cause.”

The group who shut down the Nalcor site only came out after Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball reached an agreement with the Innu and Inuit leaders to address environment concerns over Muskrat Falls.

Many feared the trees and soil in the flood zone of the dam will create methylmercury and contaminate traditional food sources downstream, and many still have concerns over the structural integrity of the dam in an area called the North Spur.

Labrador land protectors continue to oppose the project calling for Muskrat Falls to be shut down and are planning another day of Action in Happy Valley-Goose Bay on Sunday.

The 28 people charged will make their first court appearance on April 11.

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