Quebec provincial police went on the march last Friday to dismantle a blockade that a group of Innu citizens erected to protest the construction of hydro transmission lines through their traditional territory.
According to available reports, no one was injured during the court-backed offensive, which the Innu passively tried to resist. However, a total of thirteen people were arrested, including ten women.
The blockade/checkpoint went up on March 5 after Innu representatives walked away from negotiations with Hydro-Québec over the proposed La Romaine Hydroelectric Complex.
The $6.5 billion project includes four new hydro dams that would ultimately provide electricity for various industrial projects including mines and aluminum refineries as part of the Plan Nord, “the Quebéc government’s plan to ravage northern Québec, with many ecologically devastating projects slated for development on Innu territory, or Nitassinan, without the consent of the Innu people,” comments Collectif solidaire anti-colonial / Anti-Colonial Solidarity Collective.
The project was approved by Quebec’s environmental assessment board more than two years ago. However, the Innu communities of Uashat and Maliotenam have continuously challenged that decision because, the Innu say that the board failed to consider how the transmission lines for the project would affect their lands.
Speaking from the blockade, Michael MacKenzie, vice-Chef at Innu Takuaikan Uashat mak Mani-Utenam commented, Everything is peaceful. There’s no aggression from our side. What we’re doing today is legitimate and this is what it’s come to. Our rights have been trampled.”
“We had the Arab Spring, I think we’re now seeing an Innu Spring,” added Christopher Scott, a spokesperson from the Alliance Romaine, who has been supporting the Innu.
Clearly, Hydro-Québec didn’t think much of that. Soon after the blockade settled in, the Crown corporation ran to the Superior Court complaining of losses amounting to more than $1/2 million for every day that the blockade remained in place. It also spiced things up by alleging that it would have to shut down any ongoing work on Friday, unless the blockade was dismantled.
On Friday afternoon, the Superior Court granted Hydro-Québec a temporary injunction. The Sureté du Québec made their move later that night.
The injunction will be in effect until March 19, 2012, at which time the matter will be discussed in court.
For those in the Montreal Area, the Anti-Colonial Solidarity Collective is organizing a protest for Monday March 12 to “Demonstrate our solidarity in the face of legal harassment by Hydro-Québec and the arrogance of the Québec state. Details of the protest have been posted to Facebook.
Thanks to Lazar, Kristen and Jay for the help with translations; and the folks at Rabble for staying on top of these events, when few others were.
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