Clyde River's fight against seismic testing in federal court
Hamlet and local hunters and trappers organization seek to overturn 2014 National Energy Board decision
The lawyer representing Clyde River told the Federal Appeals Court in Toronto Monday that the community's fight against seismic testing is about the Inuit right to eat.
Lawyer Nader Hasan argued that seismic testing could be catastrophic to the local food supply, driving away crucial marine mammals and fish in a community with a high level of food insecurity.
The decision enraged locals, who fear seismic testing will spook away or kill the fish, narwhal, beluga and seal used for food. That's a problem for Clyde River, where a litre of orange juice can cost close to $10.
Hasan also argued that the companies proposing the testing did not consult with Inuit in a meaningful way, in part by holding community information sessions rather than consultation hearings.
A lawyer for one of the companies involved in the seismic testing project rebutted that argument, saying they did many consultations with Baffin communities. Lawyers also argued that the Qikiqitani Inuit Association and Nunavut Tunngavik, Inc. were consulted as representatives of Inuit, under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. They said those organizations are the only ones who can legally speak for Inuit in this case. The hamlet of Clyde River, they argued, cannot.
The hearing wrapped up Monday afternoon. The judges haven't said when they'll render a decision.
'We've got lots of support'
"I'm feeling really good," said hamlet mayor Jerry Natanine, in advance of the hearing. "We've got lots of support."
For the people of Clyde River, this is about the right to eat.- Nader Hasan, lawyer for Hamlet of Clyde River
The legal challenge has been met with plenty of support, including from author Naomi Klein and actress Lucy Lawless. Nader Hasan, a lawyer for the hamlet, said the public response to Clyde River's case "underscores what we've known all along."
Tori Cress, who is with Idle No More Ontario, supports the hamlet's fight. She said aboriginal peoples are not against development, but that they should demand consent.
"If we're going to have these resource extraction companies in our territories, we should have a say," said Cress. "We should have control over how these things are being done."
CBC's Shaun Malley (@cbcshaun) was tweeting from the Iqaluit courthouse, where a video feed showed the proceedings in Toronto.