Beatrice Hunter released from jail, allowed to protest outside Muskrat Falls gate
Judge warns Hunter will be arrested if she blocks access to Muskrat Falls site
By Katie Breen, CBC News, June 9, 2017
After 10 days of incarceration, Muskrat Falls protester Beatrice Hunter has been released from custody.
Hunter appeared before the Supreme Court in Happy Valley-Goose Bay Friday where a judge agreed to modify the conditions of her undertaking, allowing the Inuk woman to come within a kilometre of the Muskrat Falls site.
Hunter, 48, was jailed last week after refusing to promise to stay away from the Labrador construction site, violating an undertaking she signed last fall.
Friends and family of Hunter’s cheered both inside and outside the courtroom Friday, as they waited for her release.
Hunter is said to have attended a protest across from the main gate — less than one kilometre from the worksite — over the Victoria Day long weekend.
She was called to court May 29 to answer to that.
When Hunter wouldn’t promise to stay away, Justice George Murphy said the court had no choice but to take Hunter into custody.
On Friday, Murphy said his decision to change the terms of Hunter’s undertaking came “with some reluctance and concern,” and he warned Hunter that she will be immediately arrested if she blocks access to the site.
Removing the undertaking allows Hunter to attend peaceful protests across from the main gate.
While the judge said he didn’t like putting Hunter into custody in the first place, he said “we can’t have people simply picking and choosing which orders they’re going to obey … the court merely wants compliance with its orders.”
While in custody, Hunter was held at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary in St. John’s, a men’s prison which has been used as an overflow facility for the women’s correctional centre in Clarenville.
Hunter first signed the undertaking, agreeing to the one-kilometre buffer, last fall after occupying the megaproject work site alongside about 50 other protesters.
Murphy said other protesters who signed the agreement will have to apply separately to have it lifted.
In a statement Friday afternoon, Nalcor Energy said it recognizes the “need and right” to express concerns about Muskrat Falls through “lawful protest.”
The statement went on to say, “We understand there are people who feel strongly about the Muskrat Falls Project. We would like to meet with Ms. Hunter and her representatives to establish a dialogue and work with them to better understand each other.”
A court injunction preventing protesters from blocking access to the site is still in place.
Posted on June 9, 2017, in Uncategorized and tagged Beatrice Hunter, Inuk, Labrador, Muskrat Falls, Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project, Nalcor Energy, political prisoner. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.