12/04/2014 07:53 EST | Updated 02/03/2015 05:59 EST

Nunavik Inuit say ‘No’ to uranium mining

The two major Inuit organizations in northern Quebec revealed their official position on uranium mining at a public consultation in Kangiqsualujjuaq, Que., and it’s a resounding ‘No.’

Makivik President Jobie Tukkiapik says the consensus is clear: Nunavik Inuit fears for radioactive contamination of the land trump any economic windfall they might reap from uranium mining.

“Uranium is a controversial topic, and must be considered separately from conventional mining activities exploiting other minerals in Nunavik,” Tukkiapik says.

Makivik Corporation, the land claims organization, teamed up with the Kativik Regional Government in stating their case to Quebec's environmental consultation office.

The land claims organization made the announcement following three years of consultations throughout Nunavik’s 14 communities. They also did consultations in Montreal and some neighbouring Cree villages.

KRG chair Maggie Emudluk says the key concern is the health of country food.

Inuit rely on hunting wildlife for sustenance, and Emudluk says the impact of radioactive material getting into the food chain could be deadly.

“The psychological effects cannot be underestimated,” she says. “People are afraid of uranium in general, but when a population is so dependent on locally sourced food, the fear and uncertainty escalate.”

It remains to be seen whether the declaration is legally enforceable under Quebec law.