8 august 2016 (Labrador Sea, NF) — Greenpeace’s icebreaker the MV Arctic Sunrise is now sailing north from St. John’s, Newfoundland, toward the Inuit community of Clyde River, Nunavut, with solar panels, scientists and Inuit allies on board.
Onboard guests include whale expert and bioaccoustician Dr. Lindy Weilgart, physics and energy professor Chris Williams, solar installer Duncan Martin, and three residents of Clyde River: mayor James Qillaq, former mayor Jerry Natanine, and Jerry’s daughter Clara Natanine.
The Arctic Sunrise will be sailing through Baffin Bay and Davis Strait — a part of the Arctic Ocean at threat from a five-year seismic blasting project that was approved in June 2014 by the National Energy board without Inuit consent or adequate consultation: a clear violation of their rights as Indigenous Peoples.
“For the first time, we have the opportunity to sail through the very region we have been fighting so hard to protect. Baffin Bay and Davis Strait are home to many marine mammals that are important for our culture, our way of life, and our ability to survive sustainably off the land and sea,” said the former mayor of Clyde River, Jerry Natanine. “If it’s not stopped, seismic blasting could very literally destroy our way of life.”
Seismic blasting — a process of firing extremely loud sounds into the ocean in search for oil and gas — has been successfully stalled in the last two years as a result of a legal challenge launched by Clyde River, meaning bowheads, narwhals, belugas, and other marine mammals are safe for now.
“Whales depend on sound for every aspect of their lives from communication to food finding, and navigation” explained Dr. Lindy Weilgart, who has been supporting Clyde River’s fight for the last two years. “Seismic air guns are so loud they can permanently damage the hearing of marine mammals nearby, and at a greater distance can drastically reduce the area over which they can communicate.”
The Arctic Sunrise is carrying solar panels that will be installed on Clyde River’s community hall where the ship is expected to arrive on August 15. The ship will spend two weeks in town for the solar installation, skillshares on the sustainability of Inuit culture, and to document Clyde River’s activism against seismic blasting.
“The Inuit of Clyde River are courageously asserting their Indigenous rights and resisting oil development in the Canadian Arctic and we are honoured to support their opposition to seismic blasting and transition away from fossil fuels. This solar project is a landmark on Clyde River’s path to energy independence and away from costly and polluting diesel fuel,” said Greenpeace Arctic Campaigner Farrah Khan.
The community of Clyde River will face the National Energy Board and seismic testing proponents at the Supreme Court of Canada on November 30, in an attempt to overturn seismic exploration permits in the waters of Baffin Bay and Davis Strait.
“By rejecting the climate change causing energy industry and embracing renewable energy, we are working hard to protect Inuit lands and waters, wildlife and people, present and future generations. We are sailing to our home, towards a future full of hope,” added Natanine.
Upon arrival in Clyde River, the ship will be joined by actor, writer, and activist Emma Thompson and her daughter Gaia Wise, and YouTube science duo AsapSCIENCE.
Learn more about this project and Clyde River at arctic-home.greenpeace.ca, also available in Inuktitut here.