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Quebec Innu community seeks $2.2B from Hydro-Québec for Churchill Falls destruction

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Quebec Innu community

A Quebec Innu community is suing Hydro-Québec for $2.2-billion, claiming the Churchill Falls hydroelectric station has destroyed a significant part of their traditional territory.

The lawsuit filed Friday in Quebec Superior Court by the Innu of Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam claims the megaproject’s reservoirs and more than 1,000 kilometres of transmission lines “flooded and destroyed” part of their traditional territory and disrupted the community’s traditional activities.

The band council says construction of the 5,428-megawatt station in Labrador and its transmission facilities in the 1960s and early 1970s was done without the consent of the community near Sept-Îles, Que.

A 1969 agreement that allows Hydro-Québec to purchase the majority of the electricity generated at the station and reap most of the profits ends in 2041.

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The community is asking the court to recognize its Aboriginal title to the affected territory and wants an injunction to prohibit the Crown corporation from making any new agreement without the participation and consent of the band council.

The lawsuit also names as a defendant Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Ltd., which operates the power plant and transmission facilities.

In an emailed statement, Hydro-Québec says it believes that through ongoing dialogue, it will be able to establish a relationship based on trust with the community.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2023.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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