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Legal document says protesters willing to accommodate Mary River employees for necessities

Baffinland vehicles
Protesters at Baffinland's Mary River mine have filed a legal document arguing their right to remain at the site, expressing their willingness to accommodate medical flights and alleging that they feel harassed by the use of the mining company's heavy equipment nearby. Hark Nijjar Photography

Protesters at Baffinland's Mary River iron mine are willing to accommodate miners for medical supplies and other necessities, according to a sworn legal document filed on Feb. 9 on behalf of the individuals participating in blockades.

The affidavit, filed by law student Bruce Uviluq to the Nunavut Court of Justice, reads that Namen Inuaraq, a "key member of the party" at the mine site protest, has spoken to Baffinland president and CEO Brian Penney on numerous occasions since Feb. 5.

The statement indicates that a number of accommodations have already been offered to the miners affected by the protesters' blockades at the Mary River mine.

"The defendants advised that they were entirely willing to make arrangement to allow Baffinland employees who did not desire to remain on the site, to depart safely and said so to Brian Penney," the document states.

Other concessions include allowing medevac flights, permitting medical supplies to be bussed in and that "all reasonable and essential requests have been responded to promptly and with reason." The defendants commit to continue in this manner, according to the document.

"Brian Penney refused these accommodations and stated that he was seeking a full and final solution and not any sort of interim resolution or accommodation," the affidavit reads, as it makes a case for the defendants to be legally permitted to remain on site with the Nunavut Agreement as a basis for their right to protest.

It adds that Uviluq has viewed footage sent by the defendants that shows no damage has been done to the runway and adds that the defendants "do not believe that irreparable harm can arise from iron ore not being transported along the tote road. "

On Tuesday, Baffinland issued its own news release stating that the company is concerned for the welfare of its 700 employees and contractors on site due to the protesters preventing fresh food, medication and other supplies from being flown to the mine, and stopping miners from leaving for home after their shifts. The news release also indicated that "Baffinland is considering all options to reopen the airstrip.”

The protesters' affidavit refers to harassment that the hunters are alleging they have experienced at the mine site over the past week. They say they are sleep deprived due to heavy equipment belonging to the mine being operated at late hours, with the revving of engines and honking of horns "creating a perception of threat during the night."

The protesters also expressed concern about being approached by mine site personnel due to the risk that some of those individuals may be carrying the Covid-19 virus.

Also named among the defendants on the affidavit are Tom Naqitarvik, Jonathan Pitula, Christopher Akeeagok, Andy Kalluk, John Doe, Jane Doe and "for all other persons unknown to the plaintiff at a blockade at or neary Mary River."

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