Waiting game in Attawapiskat on the diamond mine ice road blockade – by Jorge Barrera (APTN National News – February 17, 2013)


ATTAWAPISKAT–The diamond mine ice road blockade outside Attawapiskat continued into its eight day Sunday despite a sheriff planting an injunction notice in the snow at the site during the early morning hours.

The notice, which was stapled to a wooden stick, was thrown into the trees by Bruce Shisheesh, an evangelical minister who had initially withdrawn from the protest but returned to the site Sunday. De Beers obtained the injunction from an Ontario judge on Friday.

While community members travelled back and forth from the blockade site, bringing food and support, Attawapiskat band officials worked behind the scenes to bring an end to the protest which has severed De Beers’ time-sensitive overland supply route.

The mine relies on the ice road for fuel deliveries and the transport of machinery and replacement parts too heavy to fly in.

Attawapiskat community members have rallied around Rebecca Iahtail, 45, who was the last blockader standing following a band meeting on Friday. Iahtail says she is dying of cancer.

Iahtail’s decision to stay gave renewed life to the blockade which is on an intersection by the ice road leading to the De Beers Victor mine site which sits about 90 kilometres west of the community.

Iahtail said a tentative agreement reached Saturday on a conference call with De Beers mine manager James Kirby was in jeopardy as a result of the injunction being served on the blockaders.

Iahtail and her supporters have said they wouldn’t end the protest until a senior De Beers official signed the agreement in person at the blockade site. She said the serving of the injunction notice could derail an end to the protest.

“We told them there was an agreement between us and De Beers but they still came with that notice there. I think it is a serious thing. They already broke their promise,” said Iahtail. “I am going to go with what my supporters say.”

The Attawapiskat band was expected to send the agreement by fax to De Beers by late Sunday afternoon for the company’s endorsement.

The agreement would see De Beers agree to a joint dispute resolution committee that would deal with issues like employment and training, housing and the need to compensate community members’ whose traplines are in and around the Victor mine site among other issues.

For the rest of this article, please go to the APTN National News website: http://aptn.ca/pages/news/2013/02/17/waiting-game-in-attawapiskat-on-the-diamond-mine-ice-road-blockade/