'We know we are being censored': Uvagut TV will not rebroadcast Baffinland hearings

Uvagut TV will not rebroadcast public hearings for a controversial proposal to expand operations at Baffinland's Mary River mine after the Nunavut Impact Review Board denied its request to do so.

Nunavut Independent Television’s board decides not to re-air hearings

A view of Milne Port. If an expansion at the Mary River Mine is approved, Baffinland says there would be around 168 ore carrier visits to the port during the summer production season. (Submitted by Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation)

An Inuktitut-language television station will not rebroadcast public hearings that took place earlier this year about a controversial proposal to expand operations at a Nunavut mine. 

The Nunavut Independent Television Network's (NITV) board agreed Friday not to rebroadcast the Nunavut Impact Review Board's (NIRB) January and February hearings on its channel, Uvagut TV, after the NIRB denied its rebroadcast request last week.

The hearings revolve around a proposed expansion at Baffinland's Mary River Mine, which, if approved, would allow the mine to double its current annual production of iron ore from six to 12 million tonnes. 

When the request was first denied, NITV's executive director contemplated defying the order to inform Inuit who didn't have the chance to watch the hearings when they were first broadcast live. 

"We know we are being censored. We want to find out who is censoring us," said Zacharias Kunuk, one of NITV's board members in a letter addressed to NIRB's board on Monday.

"It's not the Inuit way to be confrontational."

NITV's board also asked for advanced permission to rebroadcast current hearings — which started Monday and will continue until April 25 — as well as a portion of the hearings that took place Feb. 5 – 6.

In an emailed response dated Monday, Karen Costello, NIRB's executive director, responded to the letter saying NIRB would not authorize rebroadcasts while in the process of decision-making. 

She also took issue with the language in NITV's most recent request. 

"The board strongly disagrees with the characterization of these standard practices as 'censorship'," she said. "Media continue to be present and accessibility by live stream continues." 

Costello said limits on making the streams available, after they've happened, are standard practices in administrative tribunals.

The proposed expansion at Mary River includes building a railway and increasing shipping through its port at Milne Inlet.

The proposal has sparked a protest by hunters from Baffin Island who formed a blockade at the mine earlier this year. They contend their Inuit harvesting rights are being ignored in Baffinland's bid to expand.