“Don’t kill the river,” sings Labrador songwriter

Jacinda Beals Band releases new song in an effort to save Muskrat Falls and the Grand River.

Jacinda Beals Band, one of Labrador’s most celebrated musical acts, just dropped the second preview of their anticipated new album Flow — a song and video that carry a clear and strong message: Stop the Muskrat Falls dam before it’s too late.

In an interview Monday just hours after the video was released online songwriter and lead singer Jacinda Beals told The Independent she penned the song two years ago because she is strongly opposed to the government and Crown energy corporation Nalcor’s controversial decision to turn the lower part of Labrador’s biggest river into an energy-producing hydroelectric megadam.

“I’m just really hurting for the river and I decided right away that it was very important to get the message out, and that it would be on this album,” she explained.

“For me the river’s still flowing. I know a lot of people think it’s too late, but I’m one of those Labradorians who thinks there’s still a lot of hope. This is my way, this is how I get my messages out there — it’s the only way I know, really, is to write music and to write songs, and this one certainly comes straight from my heart.

“The idea of the river being dammed still chokes me up,” she said.

 For me the river’s still flowing. I know a lot of people think it’s too late, but I’m one of those Labradorians who thinks there’s still a lot of hope. — Jacinda Beals

In the song Beals sings, “Don’t kill the river, what’s she done to you? Let her live, let her breathe, let her be, let her waters flow through. Don’t kill the river. What’s it gonna take? She’s dying, suffering, suffocating, every cent that you make. Don’t kill the river. Can’t you hear her sing? Just listen to the sound of her voice as it moves on the wind. Don’t kill the river. Hear what she has to say. Let her live, let her breathe, let her see another day.”

Beals lives just downstream from the dam construction site in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, and with the help of local filmmaker Jamie Skidmore she and her band shot part of the video on the banks of Lake Melville where the river empties into the estuary.

Other footage that Skidmore shot of the falls and construction up close was also incorporated into the video, Beals explained.

“To have those photos, not just of the river but of the destruction that’s happening around it, really adds to the impact.”

The band — Beals, Greg Peach, Hal Collishaw and Daniel Manning — was joined in the studio by guests Elliot Dicks and Janet Cull to record the track.

A recent study led by researchers from Harvard University collected baseline data for the waters of Lake Melville and predicts methylmercury levels will likely rise to levels that would make eating wild foods like fish, seals and seabirds unsafe for human consumption. The Innu and Inuit both harvest country foods from the lake and, if the Harvard study is right, would lose a traditional and important food source.

“Labrador is such a beautiful, pristine place and untouched in so many ways, and to see it being destroyed like it is, and the land around it, and what’s to come — it really hurts my heart,” said Beals.

“I’m so proud to be Labradorian, and so proud of this wonderful place and the awesome people here.

“I think it’s important for Labradorians, and Newfoundlanders, to try and protect what we still have: the environment, the animals, the land, the waters,” she continued.

“I know we’re tired, but I’m just hoping Labradorians don’t give up hope. I really do believe there’s a chance somewhere, somehow that we can stop that river from being dammed. And if all I can do is spread the word with this song then I just hope it reaches as many people as possible.”

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