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Chain fast to raise awareness of Muskrat Falls project spreads across country

Muskrat Falls
Muskrat Falls - SaltWire Network

People across the country are taking part in a chain fast in support of the Labrador Land Protectors.

The purpose of the chain fast, which see’s people fast for one day or more, is to show support of raising awareness and building resistance to the Muskrat Falls project. The action runs summer solstice and fall equinox, June 21 to Sept. 22, and over 50 people have taken part so far, including people ranging from as close as Happy Valley-Goose Bay to as far as Pennsylvania.

Matthew Behrens, one of the organizers of the event and social justice advocate who coordinates the Homes not Bombs non-violent direct action network, said it’s great to see the support.

“We were looking for something to help build our network over the summer as well as an activity that was not reliant on being in one particular place and which could be connected to people's local struggles over land and water and human rights,” Behrens told The Labradorian. “The chain fast immediately took off and we have over 100 people participating, with everyone from raging grannies holding an ‘Unpicnic’ on Parliament Hill to a day of leafletting from the group Solidarity Halifax. Each participant writes to MPs and the PM to share their concerns that $9.2 billion in federal monies is being used to prop up cultural genocide in Labrador.”

Denise Cole, one of the Labrador Land Protectors, said it’s empowering to know that they are not alone and that solidarity is growing.

“Sometimes we can feel like our voices are lost here in Labrador,” she said. “ When we see and hear people from one end of the nation to the other speaking up with us and taking action, it encourages us to never give up.”

Cole said sometimes people can get tired and feel like nothing is happening, and having someone from elsewhere stand beside you helps give hope and strength. She said it is disappointing the Muskrat Falls hydro project continues on as if nothing is wrong.

“This shows us that regardless of what any elected leaders says about reconciliation, they are certainly not doing anything to achieve it,” she said. “To ignore all the voices is to continue down the colonial path.”

Behrens said they had a very busy spring with a national day of action on May 7 that included civil resistance on Parliament Hill and people gathered in Winnipeg, Mississauga, St. John's, Halifax, and Happy Valley-Goose Bay to take a stand against the dam.

He said they also occupied the Emera AGM in Toronto that month and protested at federal Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna's Ottawa office.

Demands

The group has three demands, the first of which is the immediate implementation of the original recommendations from the 2016 Harvard University study on methylmercury for full clearance of brush, trees, and topsoil, along with the capping of the wetlands, at the Muskrat Falls reservoir to prevent the bioaccumulation of the neurotoxin methylmercury.

The second demand is the immediate appointment of an independent inquiry into the instability of the North Spur, because no study has proven that it is secure enough to prevent a catastrophic dam break and mass drowning.

The final one is that the federal government, provincial government, and Nalcor must halt all work on the dam until they have received the free, prior and informed consent of all Indigenous Peoples affected by the dam, as well as that of non-Indigenous downstream residents.

“We recognize that the federal and provincial governments along with Nalcor appear unwilling to budge an inch when it comes to the mitigation of poisoning the food chain, risking the lives of thousands through flash floods, and destroying Indigenous cultures, which means we must be realistic and call for the closing down of a project that can only do harm,” Behrens said.

For more information on the chain fast and to find out how to take part visit here.

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