Support for inmates
Protesters in St. John’s prison want forensic audit of Muskrat Falls
At one point, there were three quick honks from a recreational vehicle moving slowly past the entrance to Her Majesty’s Penitentiary early Monday afternoon — one honk for each of the Labrador Land Protectors being held inside.
Supporters of the trio gathered in a line outside the prison, holding signs and speaking to passersby. It was not the first day and the half-dozen on site at this point were glad for the show of support from the RV driver, even before he leaned out his window.
“Get ’em out,” he said, echoing the protesters’ own statements to reporters. “Get ’em out of there.”
Whether or not the inmates could hear the RV or the honking from other passing drivers, signs of support for James Learning, Marjorie Flowers and Eldred Davis went on for hours. They are expected to go on again Tuesday, and until the three detained individuals are returned home.
The two men, NunatuKavut elders, and Flowers were taken into custody on Friday in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. Justice George Murphy ordered them detained after they refused to sign an injunction specifying they would not interfere at the worksite of the ongoing Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project.
They were flown more than 800 kilometres from their homes. They are expected to be back in Happy Valley-Goose Bay a week from now, when their case is called in provincial court.
An Inuk woman named Beatrice Hunter spent 10 days in
custody at HMP earlier this year, when she refused to make a similar
agreement with the court. She was released only after agreeing to not go within a kilometre of the project worksites.
Jodi Greenleaves, originally from Cartwright, stood outside HMP when Hunter was incarcerated there. She said Monday she was upset to have to be back.
Greenleaves visited the night before with Flowers, who is her father’s partner. She said she hopes to be able to visit with her again Tuesday evening.
“She was in good spirits and we kind of laughed and joked around about a few things,” she said.
While upbeat, she said, Flowers understands why she is imprisoned. Greenleaves said Flowers, Learning and Davis all made a conscious choice to refuse to agree to the court’s conditions, to call attention to the Land Protectors’ call for action. The protesters want a forensic audit of provincial Crown corporation Nalcor Energy and the Muskrat Falls project, progress on the methylmercury issue and a full review of engineering related to the stability of the part of the dam site known as the North Spur.
Greenleaves hadn’t spoken with either Learning or Davis, but was hopeful to be able to see them in the coming days.
Michael Collins was also in front of HMP in support of the trio.
“When I first heard about this, I couldn’t believe it,” he said, describing himself as a Land Protectors supporter.
Collins said there should be more effort to listen to the voices of individuals, as opposed to corporations — a clear problem with this project, he suggested.
NunatuKavut President Todd Russell said he does not agree with the detainments of NunatuKavut Community Council members at HMP, or generally within the prison system. He said there must be another way found to address the issues being raised.
A group including self-described Labrador Land Protectors and supporters remained outside of Her Majesty’s Penitentiary in St. John’s on Monday. The Telegram was told the plan is to have some kind of presence at the location each day, beginning around...