Wednesday, October 7, 2020 – The First Nations of Pessamit (Innu), Wemotaci (Atikamekw), Pikogan, Lac Simon and Kitcisakik (Anishnabeg) announced opposition to Hydro-Quebec’s proposed transmission corridor in Quebec (Appalaches-Maine) to the Maine border and the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) to Massachusetts. The First Nations filed comments to the U.S. Department of Energy on the Presidential Permit needed by NECEC to cross the US-Canadian border. The documents can be found here. The five First Nations described the history of harm to their communities and ancestral lands from hydropower development. The resulting environmental racism associated with the generation of this electricity on their territories and export to the U.S. as “clean energy” is summed up this way by Chief of Kitcisakik, Mr. Régis Penosway,
“Our community is located at the foot of a dam which inundated a large area of our ancestral territory equal in size to the island of Manhattan (59.1 mi2). Although surrounded by Hydro-Québec installations, our homes have no electricity or running water and have no wastewater management infrastructure. Our First Nations have enabled Quebec to industrialize and the majority of its citizens to access a better quality of life, but the health and well-being indicators for our communities continue to be comparable to those in third-world countries.”
According to the October 7, 2020 Press Release, “36% of the total hydroelectric power installed by Hydro-Quebec has been stolen from us [five First Nations in Quebec] since it is produced in our respective ancestral territories from reservoirs, dams, power plants and various other installations, without prior consultation, without our consent and without compensation.”
Another 1/6 of Hydro-Quebec’s supply is illegally taken from the ancestral lands of the Innu of Labrador: that is over 50% of Hydro-Quebec’s electricity from stolen lands. This environmental racism was also described in testimony to the U.S. International Trade Commission by Senator Mary Jane McCallum and Tataskweyak First Nation in August 2020. Both the proposed New York and Massachusetts transmission corridors use electricity from stolen lands of Indigenous people.