Charges dropped against Muskrat Falls demonstrators

Charges have been dropped against 10 Muskrat Falls protestors, nearly two years after Nunatukavut members were arrested.
Elder Ken Mesher and NunatuKavut President Todd Russell were arrested in 2013 for demonstrating near the Muskrat Falls site. (CBC )

After nearly two years, charges have been dropped against 10 protesters of the Muskrat Falls hydro project in Labrador. 

The charges date back to 2013 when, following a string of demonstrations at Muskrat Falls, Nalcor Energy won a court injunction to block protesters from coming within 50 metres of the work site. 

... As long as I've got breath and strength in my body, I'll be out on the land.- Ken Mesher, 78

In April of that year, NunatuKavut president Todd Russell took part in a demonstration on the Trans-Labrador Highway, about 10 kilometres from the site where a generating station will be built on the Churchill River. 

Russell was arrested along with seven others.

Last month, the Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal unanimously decided to overturn Nalcor's injunction.

While the Crown said members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police had reasonable grounds to arrest the demonstrators, it expressed that there was no public interest in pursuing the charges. 

Russell calls the decision to dismiss the case a victory. "As many have said, these charges should never have been laid," Russell told CBC News. 

"They should never have been prosecuted in the court and for two years our people have had these held over their heads," said Russell.
The 2013 injunction stipulated demonstrators move their activities at least 50 metres away from the Muskrat Falls work site. (CBC)

NunatuKavut elder Ken Mesher faced charges for protesting and for setting traps near the work site.

Mesher told CBC News this is something he will continue to do.

"I'll be 79 next year and I'm going to carry on my traditional way of our people," Mesher said. 

"And as long as I've got breath and strength in my body, I'll be out on the land."

In a statement, Nalcor Energy said it respects the rights of those who oppose the Muskrat Falls development but wants to stress the importance of on-site safety. 

The Crown corporation has established a safety zone for protesters adjacent to the site. 

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