MAC: Mines and Communities

United front forms against Quebec uranium mining

Published by MAC on 2013-03-19
Source: Statement, Nunatsiaq Online

Uranium mines in Quebec: First Nations, municipalities and citizens unite their voices for a moratorium

Coalition Pour que le Québec ait meilleur mine press release

11 March 2013

QUEBEC CITY- Two years to the day following the Fukushima disaster in Japan, First Nations, municipalities and Citizen groups unite their voices, asking the Quebec government to announce a moratorium on uranium mines. They also ask the Government to quickly act on its promise to hold a generic environmental evaluation on uranium in Quebec.

Uranium is a radioactive metal used in the production of nuclear energy and bombs. Its extraction and use pose significant health and environmental risks. Moratoria are already in place in British-Colombia, Nova Scotia and in the Commonwealth of Virginia. "Quebec must follow these examples. Their decisions were based on strong analysis and despite pressure from industry, they wisely decided to shut the door on uranium mining for health, security and environmental reasons," confirms Ugo Lapointe from Québec meilleure mine.

Many communities are claiming their opposition to uranium mining in Quebec. The Cree Nation of Mistissini (James-Bay / Eeyou Istchee), in Northern Quebec, is one of them. "As protectors of the largest fresh water lake in Quebec, Lake Mistassini, we strongly oppose any uranium development. It goes against our way of life and our beliefs. As opposed to other form of tailings, such as that from the Stornoway mine also on our territory, waste from this type of mine stays radioactive for thousands of years, and that is socially unacceptable. We are all here today to say out loud that uranium should not be mined in Quebec" said the Mistissini Council Chief Richard Shecapio.

Today's announcement follows the initiative of the Mayor of Amqui, Gaëtan Ruest, whose municipal council passed a strong resolution against uranium and who forwarded the resolution to the municipalities of Quebec asking them to adopt similar resolutions. So far, over 300 Quebec municipalities have done so and there is an objective to reach 500 municipalities in the next few months. Details can be found here:

Chief Ghislain Picard from the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL) also applauded the group initiative. "We would like to thank Mayor Ruest for his important initiative and we call upon more First Nations and Quebec municipalities to do the same and send a strong message to the Government of Quebec."

The Government of Quebec pledged to hold an independent inquiry on uranium mining in Quebec. A recent Léger marketing survey showed that 62% of Quebecers are in favor of a moratorium on uranium mining. This number rises to 78% in favor of a broad, independent impact assessment on uranium mining before any projects is approved. "The Government has everything they need to announce a moratorium and follow-up on their promise to hold an independent inquiry on uranium mining in Quebec," concluded Philippe Bourke, Director of the Regroupement national des conseils régionaux de l'environnement.

Organizations supporting today's press conference include: The Cree Nation of Mistissini, the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, the City of Amqui, the Regroupement national des conseils régionaux de l'environnement, the Coalition Pour que le Québec ait meilleure mine, the Mouvement Sortons le Québec du nucléaire, the Canadian coalition for nuclear responsibility, the Canadian association of physicians for the environment, Physicians for global survival, Sept-Îles sans uranium, Minganie sans uranium, Baie-James/Eeyou Istchee Sans uranium, Mouvement vert Mauricie, l'Association de protection des Hautes-Laurentides, Nature Québec, the Suzuki Foundation and Greenpeace.

For further information:

Bella Loon - Communications Officer
Cree Nation of Mistissini

Mylène Bergeron and Anne-Sophie Desprez
Communications coordinators
Nature Québec
418-648-2104, p.2074

MLA not happy with review process for Nunavut uranium mine

"People want to voice their concerns"

Samantha Dawson

Nunatsiaq Online

14 March 2013

Nunavut - Baker Lake MLA Moses Aupaluktuq panned the environmental review process for Areva Canada's Kiggavik uranium project in the legislative assembly March 14.

During question period, he asked Peter Taptuna, the minister of economic development and transportation, who is responsible for mining in the territory, and if the Nunavut government believes Areva is taking the review process seriously.

The process is comprehensive, and the Government of Nunavut is committed to participate in the environmental reviews as they come up, Taptuna said.

But Aupaluktuq said the community consultations scheduled by the Nunavut Impact Review Board to take place this spring in Baker Lake come right at a time when most people in this Kivalliq community are out hunting.

"People are out hunting, getting fish and caribou. We have a lot of people outdoors and not very many people are available to do the consultation process," Aupaluktuq told Nunatsiaq News.

"The timeline is always geared toward the spring, [so] that's a valid question that people ask," he said.

The timing of the consultations won't benefit the community, he said.

Community roundtable discussions are set for June 4 to June 6 at the Baker Lake community recreation centre.

A technical meeting will take place in Rankin Inlet May 28 to 30 at the Siniktarvik Hotel and Conference Centre.

Aupaluktuq said he also hears concerns from young people about whether or not the review process will be taken seriously.

Aupaluktuq said youth in Baker Lake have told him they're worried about the environmental impact of a uranium mine.

"People want to voice their concerns about restricted land use areas as well as protected areas... caribou are very important to us," he said.

Young hunters are especially concerned about being able to hunt.

"Nobody's against the economic development and employment opportunities, but I wish people would focus on strengthening their education by any means possible. The mining sector is there, but it won't be there forever and people have to learn to plan for the future," Aupaluktuq said.

The Baker Lake MLA is not the only one to publicly criticize the dates for the Kiggavik Baker Lake consultations.

The Nunavummiut Makitagunarningit lobby group accused the NIRB this past December of preventing Baker Lake Inuit from participating in meetings, because of their spring dates.

After the technical review comments, the NIRB will offer Areva a chance to respond to the comments, before a pre-hearing conference in Baker Lake.

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