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Victors and victims of the Berger report

It was going to be the biggest private construction project in history. But before a pipeline could be built from the Beaufort Sea to energy-hungry markets in the south, the impact on the North's people, economy and environment had to be determined. That task was given to Justice Thomas Berger, who embarked on an extraordinary three-year odyssey across the Arctic. His report shocked the government that appointed him, and was heralded by some as "Canada's Native Charter of Rights."

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Residents of Canada's North are bitterly polarized over the death of the pipeline. As Inuit leaders celebrate the Berger Report as a vindication of their rights, Métis and white businessmen are dismayed and outraged by the decision to delay construction of a pipeline. Every day they watch years of investment, employment and business go (so to speak) down the river.
• The word "Inuvik" means "place of the people" in Inuvialuktun, the language of the Inuvialuit Inuit who live in the region. The population of the town of Inuvik, N.W.T. rises and falls with the oil industry, peaking at about 4,000 in the mid-1970s. Today Inuvik is again growing, and the town overwhelmingly supports pipeline construction.

• In the decade following the Berger Inquiry energy prices dropped dramatically, and gas supplies exceeded demand. Though prices have risen again in recent years, the proposed Mackenzie Valley pipeline of the 1970s would not have been as profitable as was expected.
Medium: Television
Program: 90 Minutes Live
Broadcast Date: Sept. 26, 1977
Guests: Jim Allard, George Burnaby, Georges Erasmus, Agnes Semmler, Don Tetrault
Host: Peter Gzowski
Duration: 12:48

Last updated: July 9, 2014

Page consulted on July 9, 2014

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