The Inuit community of Clyde River, Nunavut, has been awaiting on justice after 3 years of fighting a dangerous Arctic oil exploration project that threatens their right to eat and their constitutional rights as Indigenous People. In 2014, the National Energy Board approved a 5-year seismic blasting project, despite the fact that Inuit communities were not adequately consulted and did not consent to the project going forward. Clyde River and Inuit across Baffin Island have made it clear they are opposed to seismic blasting in their waters. Find out why on this page.
– Fast facts: Stand with Clyde River Campaign
– Backgrounder on Clyde River’s case against seismic testing at the Supreme Court of Canada
– Media briefing – Caution required: Seismic blasting harms whales
About the case
- Clyde River is represented by the Hamlet of Clyde River and the Nammautaq Hunters & Trappers Organization and former Mayor Jerry Natanine.
- Clyde River was not properly consulted prior to the approval of seismic blasting, which threatens the marine animals upon which the community depends for their food security. This case is as much about the right to eat as the right of Indigenous communities right to consult on energy projects that impact their lands and waters.
- The consortium of oil companies they’re taking on includes: Petroleum Geo-Services Inc., Multi Klient Invest AS, and TGS-Nopec Geophysical Company ASA. The respondents have agreed to suspend blasting for 2017 and until the ruling has been delivered. Clyde River’s court challenge has successfully delayed seismic blasting for the past three years.
- The National Energy Board and Attorney General of Canada are also named as a Party in this case.
- This case is expected to clarify what will satisfy the government’s “duty to consult” with Indigenous communities. Among the binding legal and human rights codes that apply are section 35 of the Canadian Constitution on Aboriginal and Treaty Rights and Article 32 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
- Clyde River has undertaken a judicial review at the Federal Court of Appeal in 2015. In 2016, after a Federal Court judge dismissed the appeal, the Supreme Court of Canada agreed to re-examine the decision.
- See this legal briefing for more details. Additional information can be found on the Supreme Court website here, while details of the Chippewas of the Thames First Nations’ case against Enbridge over consultation around the Line 9 pipeline is here. The cases of Clyde River and the Chippewas are distinct. However, because both cases relate to the responsibility to consult, the Court agreed to hear the two cases together.
About Seismic Blasting
- Seismic blasts are loud. Up to, and sometimes over, 260 decibels underwater, which is eight times louder than a jet engine heard 50 metres away on land.
- Sounds at this level can burst human ear drums (the human threshold of pain is 125 dB and eardrum rapture could happen around 140-150 dB), as well as cause whales to experience temporary or permanent hearing loss, which — because they rely on echolocation — impacts nearly every aspect of their daily activities: navigating, communicating, searching for food, etc.
- Roughly 80-90% of the world’s narwhals live in Baffin Bay and Davis Strait — the exact area where companies want to blast through waters in search of oil. Whales like beluga, narwhal and bowhead can be harmed or killed by these destructive blasts.
About the Campaign
- Greenpeace is supporting the community of Clyde River by contributing to some of its legal costs, as well as helping bring its case to national and international attention. Greenpeace also stands in solidarity with the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation. In August 2016, we sailed to Clyde River to support the community’s installation of a solar array and to raise awareness of its legal battle.
- Just shy of 440,000 people around the world signed petitions to stop seismic blasting and stand with Clyde River.
- Many people from around the world took “noise complaint” photos and shared them over social media, directing them to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has failed to make good on promises to implement UNDRIP and his assertion that “governments grant permits, communities grant permission” (March 2016).
- The “Right to Eat” video featuring community leader and former mayor of Clyde River, Jerry Natanine, and writer and Oscar-winning actor, Emma Thompson, was viewed almost one million times by people from Australia to Mexico, Quebec to Taiwan.
- Food prices are exceptionally high in Nunavut and 60% of children there live in food insecure households, making country food caught on land or in water important for having enough to eat. In fact, access to culturally appropriate food is a fundamental part of food sovereignty. Country food and locally foraged edible plants are the most sustainable and healthy source of food for many Inuit.
- Hundreds of people participated in a solidarity rally for Clyde River and the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation when their cases were heard at the Supreme Court on November 30th, 2016.
- 20 celebrities voiced their support on social media or in this video, including Emma Thompson, YouTubers Mitchell Moffit and Gregory Brown of ASAPScience, Naomi Klein, Leonardo Dicaprio, John Oliver, Oprah, and Rachel McAdams.
- Clyde River supporters have also helped donate solar panels to the community, which have been successfully installed on its community hall. In just a few months, the 27 panels have already saved the community $2,000 dollars — surpassing by far the $4,500 annual savings originally estimated.
- In the long-term, Clyde River’s solar array is meant to continue to save the community money and diesel as well as act as inspiration to other Northern communities and to governments that renewable energy can thrive in the Arctic and offers up exciting avenues for economic development beyond the oil that is so destructive to their communities and environment.