‘We need to be whole’ to benefit from mining development, Eabametoong chief tells Carolyn Bennett
Mining is not the solution to the social ills, including suicides, plaguing First Nations in northern Ontario, the Minister of Indigenous Affairs and First Nations leaders agree.
Minister Carolyn Bennett was in Attawapiskat on Monday after the Cree community on the James Bay coast cited more than a dozen suicide attempts in April and 28 recorded attempts in March. Bennett’s visit was part of a tour of remote First Nations in northern Ontario by the Minister.
“We see there’s mining industries, there’s governments that want to get into our traditional lands”, Chief Wayne Moonias told Bennett last Friday in Neskantaga First Nation. “Development is not going to occur with the social conditions facing our community.”
Attawapiskat has declared four states of emergency over social problems, including a shortage of housing and spikes in deaths by suicide since 2008 – the year DeBeers opened its diamond mine nearby.
In Neskantaga overcrowded and unsafe homes lead to despair, according to resident Bradley Moonias who said he and his wife and young children are scattered among several houses, sleeping on couches or sharing bedrooms with extended family.
“It creates tensions,” Bradley Moonias said during a community meeting with Bennett. “Suicide, it comes from the homes.”
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