(Justin Brake, journalist with The Independent. Twitter)
Update: Justin Brake left the occupied Nalcor offices Tuesday evening and was picked up by a worker and driven to the gates of the construction site.
APTN National News
A Newfoundland and Labrador journalist with an independent online publication facing possible arrest for covering the ongoing Muskrat Falls occupation said telling the story remains his priority.
Justin Brake, the reporter-editor for The Independent, said he is still considering options after he was named along with 21 other people in a subpoena order issued Monday by Supreme Court of Newfoundland Justice George Murphy. Murphy’s order allows the Sheriff to arrest and detain any of the individuals listed until their court appearance for a contempt of court hearing.
Murphy wants the individuals to appear before the court to determine why they violated the Oct. 16 injunction against occupying the Muskrat Falls construction area.
“It is of utmost importance that this story be told,” said Brake, in a telephone interview with APTN from a hallway inside the occupied construction offices of Nalcor, the Crown corporation behind the mega hydro-electric project. “I never thought in my time I would see a Crown energy corporation, even in the circumstances they are facing, come down so heavy handed to infringe on the constitutional rights of journalists to practice freedom of the press.”
Brake said he is not sure what he will do next.
“If it means reporting from the outside because Nalcor is forcing me to, then I will have strong phone and social media connections with them if they choose to stay in,” said Brake.
Brake followed a group of demonstrators when they broke through fencing to enter the Muskrat Falls construction site on Saturday.
He said he knew the move was violating the court injunction, but the story was too important to let that stop him.
“So I went through, despite there being an injunction, I felt my responsibility as a journalist trumped the court order,” he said.
He said about 50 people are currently occupying the Nalcor offices at the moment and they are also discussing what to do next in light of the court order.
“It’s not clear to me what I want to do yet. It is not clear to me how they are going to act. They are going to make individual decisions, if anybody decides to leave and if anyone decides to stay,” said Brake. “They are discussing all of that.”
The occupiers are also waiting on the outcome of a meeting Tuesday between Premier Dwight Ball and Indigenous leaders.
Brake said the Muskrat Falls resistance has united the Inuit, Innu and Metis in Labrador like never before.
“Many people have noted this is a historical moment for the people of Labrador and the three Indigenous groups in Labrador that have united like never before and it’s because of these actions they have taken against this project,” said Brake.
The Independent is a not-for-profit organization that relies on crowd funding as a means of funding.
Brake is the only full-time staff of The Independent which also relies on a roster of freelance writers.
The Independent has carved out a niche for itself in the province as a fearless independent voice of journalism.