Clean and Green for Whom?

Marjorie Flowers, an Inuit woman from Nunatsiavut, Labrador, will speak on the effects of the Muskrat Falls hydro project, at the United American Indians of New England’s Day of Mourning on Cole Hill, in Plymouth, Massachusetts, at 12 PM on November 22, 2018.

In addition to speaking at Plymouth’s Day of Mourning on Thursday, Marjorie Flowers will join us at Jones River Landing on Saturday, November 24 from 5-6:30 PM for discussion and light refreshments. (All are welcome!)

We learned last year of the project proposed by Emera and Nalcor to bring Canadian hydro via an underwater sea cable to Plymouth at the Pilgrim Nuclear site. Marjorie will update us on the issues facing her community as a result of this megadam project so that we are informed and can influence wise choices for our energy future in Massachusetts.

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A member of the Labrador Land Protectors, Flowers was born and raised in Rigolet, Labrador, near the site of the Muskrat Falls megadam under construction on the Grand (Churchill) River.

Since 2011, Indigenous people and settlers living in the Happy Valley-Goose Bay region of Labrador – which is unceded Innu and Inuit land – have been excluded from a process that has allowed the Muskrat Falls megadam to proceed, regardless of their grave concerns about methylmercury poisoning of their traditional food web and the daily threat of dam collapse.

The Labrador Land Protectors state: “Our fears are real; some of us go to sleep at night with life preservers under our beds. We live the despair of knowing our way of life that has existed for generations is being threatened. Justin Trudeau recently apologized for a past act of Labrador cultural genocide, yet his government supports this impending act of cultural genocide with a $9.2 billion federal investment.”

Much of the resistance to the Muskrat Falls dam has taken place with very little media attention here in the United States. Dozens of land protectors and riverkeepers in Labrador have been criminalized (and some, including Elders, jailed in maximum security penitentiaries) for peaceful acts of resistance and sacred ceremonies on traditional lands.

“All calls for accountability, transparency, and respect have been ignored as this megaproject proceeds full speed ahead, doubling in a cost (now $12.7 billion) that will be borne by our province’s poorest residents and next generations” the Land Protectors state.

“All possible political channels have been exhausted, from meetings with bureaucrats and Ministers to years of lobbying, petitioning, demonstrating, and civil disobedience in Labrador. Still the federal and provincial governments refuse to seek and obtain the free, prior and informed consent of all of us affected downstream.”

Since 1970, Indigenous people have gathered at noon on Cole’s Hill in Plymouth to commemorate a National Day of Mourning on the US thanksgiving holiday. Many Native people do not celebrate the arrival of the Pilgrims and other European settlers.

Thanksgiving Day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of Native people, the theft of Native lands, and the relentless assault on Native culture. Participants in National Day of Mourning honor Indigenous ancestors and the struggles of Native peoples to survive today. It is a day of remembrance and spiritual connection as well as a protest of the racism and oppression that Native people continue to experience.

Marjorie Flowers’ speaking tour is sponsored by the North American Megadams Resistance Alliance (NAMRA), which opposes imports of hydroelectricity from large dams – like Muskrat Falls – that have caused irreversible harm to ecosystems and to Indigenous communities. The States of Vermont, Massachussetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and New York, have been complicit in the expansion of hydroelectric development on Indigenous lands through imports of electricity from Hydro Quebec. (Electricity from Hydro Quebec includes energy generated in Labrador on the Churchill River.)

The proposed new transmission lines – the New England Clean Power Link, Central Maine Power’s New England Clean Energy Connect, the Northern Pass, the Champlain Hudson Power Express – that would bring hydroelectricity from Quebec and Labrador to the region, will certainly lead to new mega dam construction on Indigenous lands.

“We ask the citizens of northeastern states to pay attention to the struggle underway in Labrador over Muskrat Falls. Hydroelectricity from large dams is neither clean nor green. Our energy policies must be based on respect for social justice and human rights. Large dams destroy forests and wetlands, contributing significantly to climate change and biodiversity loss,” stated Alexis Lathem, a Vermont member of the Alliance.