Diamond mine hit by second Attawapiskat blockade

About a dozen Attawapiskat residents launched a second blockade on an ice road leading to the De Beers diamond mine Sunday.

(John Edwards speaks to a supporter at Attawapiskat blockade of ice road leading to De Beers diamond mine. APTN/Photo)

By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
ATTAWAPISKAT-About a dozen Attawapiskat residents launched a second blockade on an ice road leading to a De Beers diamond mine Sunday.

The blockade, which began Sunday evening, forced a convoy of several empty fuel trucks back to the De Beers Victor diamond mine which sits about 90 kilometres west of Attawapiskat in northern Ontario.

A separate blockade ended Thursday.

A cube truck, several pick-up trucks and wooden pallets blocked the branch of the ice road leading to the De Beers mine. The diamond mining giant depends on the ice road to haul things like fuel and equipment too heavy for easy air delivery.

“We just want to be heard,” said John Edwards, one of about a dozen people at the blockade late Sunday evening. “Attawapiskat is idle no more.”

Edwards said part of the blockade was motivated by De Beers’ failure to compensate his family for the impact the mine has had on their traplines. The mine is also next to where his grandmother is buried.

“They never gave…anything to date for trespassing on the trapline,” said Edwards.

He said it was time for De Beers to compensate Attawapiskat residents for the wealth the mine generates.

“This is traditional territory for us. We use the rivers as highways, we travel on them to hunt, to get access to other rivers,” said Edwards. “It comes down to money. It is a money system that was introduced ever since the foreign immigrants came here. The immigrants came here, the king and queen system didn’t work for them, the peasants came over, and they got rich on these lands.”

This blockade comes three days after another blockade on the same ice road ended peacefully after De Beers, Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence came to an agreement with another group of residents who demanded that the community’s impact benefit agreement with mining giant be reopened.

Bruce Shisheesh, the spokesman for the first group, said it was his understanding the agreement has now been reopened. In a statement issued by De Beers following the end of last week’s blockade, the mining company made no mention of reopening the agreement.

Spence was not in the community at the time the blockade was launched. The Attawapiskat chief is in Moose Factory for meetings.

De Beers could not be reached for comment.

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4 thoughts on “Diamond mine hit by second Attawapiskat blockade

  1. Both. The mine gives the community 3 million dollars per year to compensate. The Chief and Council are to dispense that money to whomever is deprived of their traplines.
    Maybe someone could call Chief Spence about this. Where is the money, Chief?

  2. I love seeing First Nation’s taking care of themselves as it is evident that nobody else is going to look out for their interests!

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