Note: Rising Tide Vermont organizers Keith Brunner and Will Bennington are associates with Global Justice Ecology Project and run the GJEP Burlington, VT desk.
Burlington, VT– Activists affiliated with Rising Tide Vermont are attending the Vermont Renewable Energy 2012 Conference and Expo at the Sheraton Hotel on Oct. 1-2 to draw attention to Hydro Quebec’s gross violations of First Nations rights in northern Quebec, and its role in the $80 billion “Plan Nord,” a proposal to industrially develop the north of Quebec. They will be on-site to greet conference participants during registration on Monday, Oct. 1st.
Since March 2012, Innu First Nations activists have resisted the construction of new dams on the Romaine river using highway blockades, marches, and a roadside encampment. Their aim is to prevent the Quebec government’s “Plan Nord” from being implemented, which will have severe impacts on their traditional territory through new mega-dams, mines, smelters, industrial forestry and railroad projects.
Élyse Vollant, an Innu grandmother from the community of Malio-Tenam on the north shore of the St Lawrence river, traveled to Burlington in July with a delegation of nine Innu community members. They came to protest former Quebec Premier Jean Charest and Gov. Peter Shumlin’s marketing of Hydro Quebec power as “green” energy at the Conference of the New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers. “Of course [Hydro Quebec power] can’t be green,” said Vollant. “It’s destroying rivers, it’s destroying trees…and so [my] message to the governor of Vermont is to stop buying energy that’s being produced on lands stolen from indigenous people, from First Nations people.” 
Keith Brunner, an organizer with Rising Tide Vermont who visited Malio-Tenam and the Romaine dam project site this summer, said, “The Shumlin administration and Green Mountain Power have been completely non-transparent regarding the grave ecological and human rights impacts of power from Hydro Quebec.” Brunner said, “Rather than addressing the root causes of climate change, policies such as those that encourage large-scale hydro create new environmental and social problems, especially for already marginalized communities.”
Alexis Lathem, a Vermont resident, who was the co-director from 1994-1998 of a Vermont-based support group for the Innu people in their opposition to hydroelectric development on their lands, said, “Over the last fifty years, the Innu people have seen their forests and rivers, one by one, destroyed by dams. This is still continuing, as the Innu struggle to preserve their last wild rivers and what is left of their way of life.”