Jim Learning and others are gathering for a “last supper” tonight, Aug. 6, at the Happy Valley-Goose Bay Kinsmen Centre to mark the last day before the Muskrat Falls reservoir starts filling with water.
Traditional food, like salmon, will be served, followed by a talking circle.
“It symbolizes the loss of a river,” said Learning, who was one of many Labrador citizens protesting the Muskrat Falls project since the beginning. “It’s more like a wake… We need to mourn the loss of this river more than anything.”
An official of NALCOR confirmed the The Labrador Voice today the impoundment of the Muskrat Falls reservoir will begin tomorrow, Aug. 7.
NALCOR said The filling of the reservoir will take some, however, and is expected to be completed in September.
Since 2016, when a Harvard study was released detailing the potential effects of methylmercury poisoning, Learning and others have been calling on the provincial government to mitigate these risks.
Protesters even shut down the Muskrat Falls worksite in the fall of 2016 to demand more action from the province.
During the Muskrat Falls inquiry, it was revealed government wouldn’t be doing wetland capping as previously planned. The $30 million designated for the capping was split up and offered to all three Indigenous governments.
Premier Dwight Ball later said wetland capping would have only decreased methylmercury levels by two per cent.
Learning, who ran in the 2019 provincial election as an independent, told the Labrador Voice today the situation feels like “a loss”.
“Even worse, it feels like a defeat,” said Learning about the impoundment. “But we fought, and that was important. We clawed hard and we clawed deep.”