Debeers road blockade ends – by Lenny Carpenter (Wawatay News – February 7, 2013)

The blockade of the road from Attawapiskat to the Debeers Canada diamond mine site is over. A small group of Attawapiskat community members blockaded the road on Feb. 4, calling on issues with the community’s agreement with the diamond company to be addressed. The blockade ended on the evening of Feb. 6.

Attawapiskat’s Impact Benefit Agreement (IBA) coordinator Danny Metatawabin said the blockaders’ issues pertained to either problems with employment at the site or the use of their traditional territory.

The circumstances behind the end of the blockade is not known at this time. Earlier that afternoon, the First Nation leadership met with community members and Debeers officials in a public meeting. Metatawabin said the blockade began with four individuals before other community members joined in support.

He said the chief and council do not support the blockade, since the IBA the community signed with Debeers allowed the company to set up the Victor Mine, the winter road, and ensure that its trucks could move without interference on the road.

Metatawabin said for the last six months, the chief and council have been working with Debeers to address issues related to the memberships’ concerns.

“We do have a renewed relationships working group represented by some council members and Debeers officials,” he said on Feb. 6, before the blockade ended. “So we’re very close to resolving those issues that suddenly surfaced coming from the blockade.”

A band council meeting called by Chief Theresa Spence is taking place today to discuss the matter.