Nfld. & Labrador

Muskrat Falls contract worker fired after Innu worker kicked in the head

Nalcor says a worker who allegedly kicked an Innu co-worker at the Muskrat Falls construction site has been fired by the outside contractor who employed him, and will not be allowed back on the site.

Behaviour 'not acceptable,' Nalcor says in statement on Thursday

Anastasia Qupee says a 20-year-old Innu worker at the Muskrat Falls site was called a 'gas-sniffer' two weeks ago by the same co-worker who kicked him in the head over the weekend. (CBC)

Nalcor says a worker who allegedly kicked an Innu co-worker at the Muskrat Falls construction site has been fired by the outside contractor who employed him.

The worker will not be allowed back on site, according to Nalcor spokesperson Karen O'Neill. 

The Innu Nation said Wednesday night the Innu worker at Nalcor's Muskrat was subjected to violence and racist remarks last weekend.

Grand Chief Anastasia Qupee says a man working at the site kicked the Innu worker in the head, and this isn't the first incident involving the same person.

According to Qupee, the person who kicked the worker was previously in trouble for making racist remarks.

Qupee said the man allegedly called the 20-year-old Innu worker a "gas-sniffer" two weeks ago.

This is enough — we've had enough.- Anastasia Qupee

"He [the Innu worker] filed that there was a racist remark made to him in the first complaint and then I believe as a result, when he came back to work - that other guy — he retaliated against this Innu person and kicked him in the head," said Qupee.

Qupee added the employee was wearing steel-toe boots when he kicked the Innu worker.

"When I heard that I was very angry, and I am still very angry," she said.

In the meantime, 15 to 20 protesters have blocked road access to, at least, the North Spur work site. They say they want Nalcor to take action on workplace issues, including racism and unfair treatment.

Happy Valley-Goose Bay RCMP confirmed they received a complaint Monday about an alleged assault that happened at the Muskrat Falls site Aug. 9.

Police are investigating the complaint.

'Not acceptable behaviour'

In a statement Thursday, Nalcor said it is committed to ensuring that future such incidents do not happen.

"Nalcor shares Innu Nation's frustration of incidents of racism on our project work sites," read a statement from Gilbert Bennett, a vice president at Nalcor.

"We are fully aligned with Grand Chief Qupee that this is not acceptable behaviour."

Bennett said the individual involved in the incident last weekend has already been removed from the Muskrat Falls site.

He added Nalcor is working with the Innu Nation to raise awareness and take measures to prevent future acts of racism and violence.

'No need for violence'

The Innu Nation, along with Mushuau and Sheshatshiu Innu First Nations, met with Nalcor representatives on Thursday to talk about the incidents and unsafe working conditions for Innu workers at the Muskrat Falls site.

"When we agreed with the project to go ahead, it was sanctioned by the Innu people, and since then we've been dealing with issues around … non-Innu employees saying racist remarks against Innu people. This is enough — we've had enough."

Qupee said a call-to-action has been issued to ensure Nalcor's zero-tolerance policy is enforced on the site and create safe working conditions for all employees.

"If it's not dealt with now it's going to be very hard for other Innu people to be working there because right now it's sending a message that there's still racism going on there, but we're putting our foot down with this one," said Qupee.

"We don't need people to be assaulted, there's no need for violence."