In less than a month, the Arctic community of Clyde River makes its biggest stand yet to assert their rights as Inuit—the right to have a say in what type of development is permitted in their territory and the right to protect their home and culture from oil exploration.

This Inuit community of just over 1,000 people is all that stands between Canada’s Arctic and a devastating form of oil exploration called seismic blasting, where loud sound explosions are shot through the ocean to find oil under the seabed. Incredible animals like beluga, narwhal and bowhead whales can be harmed or even killed by these destructive blasts.

 

Aerial view of Clyde River in the summer.
Aerial view of Clyde River in the summer.
Sam Ford Fjord. Animals inhabiting this region are under threat from seismic blasting.
Sam Ford Fjord. Animals inhabiting this region are under threat from seismic blasting.

The government, which has given the greenlight to a group of companies who want to blast the Arctic, does not have this community’s consent and has not properly consulted with them—a right the Inuit hold as Indigenous Peoples under Canada’s Constitution and the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Rights (which Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has pledged to implement). On November 30th, that’s what they’ll tell the Supreme Court of Canada.

Mayor of Clyde River, James Qillaq, on the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise as it set sail to visit Baffin Bay and Davis Strait — the exact region at threat from seismic blasting.

Mayor of Clyde River, James Qillaq, on the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise as it set sail to visit Baffin Bay and Davis Strait — the exact region at threat from seismic blasting.

For Clyde River, the fight against Arctic oil is about the right to eat. Seismic blasting threatens the marine animals upon which Inuit people depend to survive. Food prices where they live can be a mind-boggling 140% higher than in southern Canada, and 60% of children in Nunavut live in food insecure households (a can of pea soup, for instance, can cost $11.89)! Without traditional country food, which is integral to Inuit culture, many families would struggle.

Irene Jonas with her children Troy and Audrey at the Clyde River Community Hall.  

Irene Jonas with her children Troy and Audrey at the Clyde River Community Hall.

Clyde River’s case will be heard alongside that of the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, who are taking a stand to protect their land and water from the risky Line 9 tar sands oil pipeline. This community is also fighting back against the government’s failure to adequately consult with them.

Canada’s Supreme Court is one of the world’s most cited courts. The verdicts could have profound implications — across Canada and globally. But, time is running out to show Prime Minister Trudeau that to fulfil his promises to mend relationships with Indigenous peoples, he needs to take action.

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You can help! Support the courageous and historic stand Clyde River is taking by signing the petition and following the community’s Facebook page to learn more about their fight to protect their Arctic home from the impacts of seismic blasts. You can also attend the solidarity rally for Clyde River and the Chippewa of the Thames in Ottawa, which is being held outside the Supreme Court on November 30th (busses from Toronto, Hamilton, Guelph, KW, London and Sarnia are being organized. Montreal transportation is also being organized).