Abenaki communities voice support for MCK on Northvolt

A pair of Abenaki communities jumped to support the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake’s position on the potential construction of a recyclable-battery plant near Hemmingford recently.

The Abenaki Councils of Odanak and Wolinak officially voiced their support for the MCK’s stance against the Northvolt EV battery-recycling plant slated for construction southeast of Kahnawake.

The MCK’s opposition to the project stems from the impact it would have on the wetlands and waterways that connect the entire St. Lawrence River Valley. It filed suit against the project in Quebec Superior Court earlier this year.

The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake said support from other First Nations was ‘critical’ to the MCK’s efforts to preserve the local wetlands and the animal life that call them home.

“Mutual support and solidarity over shared territory is critical, and we must make every effort to align whenever possible,” it said. “The government’s failure to consult compromises us equally as First Nations people and the significance of our mutual support is deeply felt by the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake.”

Recently, Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL) got an update on proceedings.

There, the AFNQL learned the parties had their first case-management conference on May 7 and that Quebec Superior Court Justice Andres Garin issued a judgment on May 10 that laid out a schedule for the parties to start exchanging evidence over the summer.

The MCK will argue the environmental impact of the plant’s construction and functions will irreparably harm the St. Lawrence Valley wetlands, which is the home of the copper redhorse fish, which is “a species threatened with extinction,” the Abenaki councils said.

“The Northvolt project raises major concerns regarding the planned destruction of vast wetland areas crucial for the preservation of numerous endangered species and the exercise of Indigenous peoples' rights. Similarly, the current financial compensation process does not allow for genuine restoration or creation of wetland and water environments of such magnitude, especially on the ancestral territories of the Abenaki of Odanak and Wolinak,” the councils wrote.

The councils added that “the cumulative effects of the battery industry on Indigenous communities in the St. Lawrence Valley, such as the railway passing through the Wolinak community, compromise the safety, tranquility, and health of its residents.”

For those interested in following the case, the case number is 500-17-128547-240.

Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Iori:wase