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Is Ontario’s Far North Act anti-aboriginal?
De Beers Canada and its Victor diamond mine is currently in the media spotlight regarding the poverty in the nearby First Nations community of Attawapiskat. Many are questioning why the community is not significantly benefiting from this diamond mine, located on its traditional territory. The Victor deposit — which is the smallest of Canada’s four diamond mines — just started production in July 2008 and has an expected life of 11 years. The mine employs about 500 people, half of whom are of First Nations background and 100 come from Attawapiskat.
This controversy highlights the widespread problem of aboriginal poverty, much of which lies at the feet of Premier Dalton McGuinty, environmentalism and the product of this marriage — the much-detested Far North Act. Praised by the south’s many well-funded and powerful environmental movements, this legislation cuts off half of the Far North to resource development — 225,000 square kilometres or roughly 21% of the province’s land mass — and turns it into parks.
The horrific downside to this green ideology is that mineral exploration and potential mines — the only form of economic development that could reduce the impoverished, Third World living conditions in First Nations communities — is being reduced or stopped in the affected territory. Continue Reading →