(June 9, 2022) Indigenous sovereignty, sustainable non-nuclear futures, and critical perspectives lost in the fray.
During the early afternoon of May 10, 2022, Chief Hugh Akagi of the Peskotomuhkati Nation took the stand at a public hearing concerning an application for a 25-year renewal of the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station by NB Power. If granted, the requested licence would be the longest in Canadian history.
“When we deal with Canada agencies, I’m always dependent upon legal advice,” Chief Akagi told the commission. “One of the biggest warnings that always comes across my plate is: ‘Be very careful. An agreement sounds good, but it’s a legally binding document and it can compromise your treaty rights.’”
“What about the real conversations about what we’ve lost?” he continued. “They took the land. They took our resources, our livelihoods. That’s the currency I would like to talk about. These are not conversations that are popular in any room.”
Indeed, the very question of why and how Indigenous sovereignty is being infringed upon is made secondary to the issue at hand.
Euphemistic language plagues public consultation. The concerned public are converted into business partners, and the ‘invisible hand’ of the nuclear industry is said to be able to enrich all New Brunswickers equally, lifting our collective ‘energy boat’ while leaving nobody behind.
This misrepresentation bypasses uncomfortable truths.
While the nuclear machine continues to crush its grassroots opposition, hefty state subsidies keep the otherwise sickly industry afloat. According to Energy Probe’s estimate, in 2005, state subsidies awarded to Atomic Energy of Canada Limited had ballooned to at least $21 billion, or 12% of the federal deficit. Close-knit relationships fostered between pro-nuclear officials in the federal and provincial governments, business leaders, and nuclear technicians all mean that public-private partnerships funnel public funds toward the very top of the nuclear establishment.