The individuals who have set up a blockade at the Mary River iron mine want to be recognized as a designated Inuit organization entitled to royalties under the Nunavut Agreement, according to Baffinland Iron Mines.

“Baffinland hears these requests, but has no right or ability to grant them,” the company stated in a news release on Monday, as the demonstration that has hindered mining operations stretched into its fourth day.

Qikiqtaaluk Unagnangani Katujjiqatigiit (QUK), a recently formed not-for-profit North Baffin Inuit organization hopes to use money flowing from the mine to form a separate economic development arm in the future.

“It’s pretty bad that we’ve been trying to fight this, but we haven’t been getting any representation for a long time,” said Neeko Inuarak, executive director of Qikiqtaaluk Unagnangani Katujjiqatigiit.

Inuarak refused to provided further comment to Nunavut News on Monday.

Baffinland made clear the impact of the blockade in its news release.

“There are more than 700 men and women currently at the Mary River Project site in Nunavut who are impacted by the protesters’ blockading of the airstrip and tote road,” the company stated. The airstrip is consequently closed to all regularly scheduled air traffic and food and supply flights to the mine have been suspended.

“Baffinland personnel have had numerous meetings with organizers, both at the blockades and in Pond Inlet, imploring the protesters to relocated off the airstrip and allow runway maintenance to take place and flights to resume. So far these discussions have not yielded any progress,” the news release by Baffinland adds.

On Sunday, Nunavut member of Parliament Mumilaaq Qaqqaq posted on social media that her office has reached out to the minister of Natural Resources to “attempt to mediate the situation at Mary River.”

Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation is seeking to double its annual mining output at Mary River to 12 million tonnes from six million tonnes.

The protests at Mary River started on Feb. 5 as two weeks of environmental hearings with regards to the expansion were wrapping up.

While those who are taking part in the blockades and protests at the Mary River site are themselves hunters, they do not represent the Mittimatalik Hunters and Trappers Organization, according to the chair.

“The Mittimatalik Hunters and Trappers Organization is not protesting, nor is in charge of the protests going on… They do fall under (MHTO), but they are not board members, nor are they employees, and we’re not taking part in any protest. I just want to make this clear to everyone” said Eric Ootoovak, chair of MHTO.

He added that the confusion with regards to who the protesters represent may stem from press releases by Baffinland.

“I think it has to do something with the Baffinland’s news releases saying ‘hunters’ or ‘hunting party,’ if I’m correct,” said Ootoovak.

The regulatory hearings for mine expansion didn’t end on a positive note, he added.

“We didn’t even finished asking questions, we just ran out of time,” he said.

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  1. There we go again. This newspaper taking quotes without permission and stirring the pot. Shame on you for always trying to turn people against eachother for publicity.

    What is happening here is a fight to improve the livelihoods of people dancing on the poverty line. Not to make this site popular.

  2. If QIA did what they were supposed to this wouldnt even be happening. This is what happens when you force people’s mouths shut for too long.

  3. This news is not accurate at all! Your a news reporter and you should do your job at getting facts right. Otherwise don’t make false statements and assumptions, get your FACT RIGHT!!

  4. Hehe for non DIO established under NLCA. This is rubbish move that don’t like baffin and must be part of who tried to separate Inuit by creating north and south. This is illegal hold up for Inuit recognized in DIO. Please list call who are with QUK.

    1. Concern man, unless you help livelyhood of North Baffinmiut, do you need to comment?

      I think it’s baffinland making this statement and trying to seperate ppl, from reading this it’s not protesters statement at all. If you heard what the protesters had to say it was different.

  5. Baffinland held many presentations years before it started development in the communities to gain community support. If only the protests had been then.

  6. this issue should be geared towards NTI, as they should have been on top and pressure all gov levels with NIRB on mining policies that could be followed accordingly. QIA represents all, ALL communities but have decided neglect northern communities even south baffin communities beneficiaries. Inuit don’t feel the ownership at all everywhere.

    1. Inuit should only ‘feel the ownership’ on IOL. I’m not sure why they would expect to feel it anywhere else.

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