Archive | Canadian Media Resource Articles

Attawapiskat chief wants share of revenues from nearby diamond mine – by Bruce Campion-Smith (Toronto Star – January 26, 2012)

The Toronto Star, has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

OTTAWA—Chief Theresa Spence says she has the answer to turning around her troubled aboriginal community of Attawapiskat — getting a share of the resource revenues flowing from a nearby diamond mine.

Without that, she warns that the troubling living conditions on her northern Ontario community will likely worsen and that lives may even be lost.

“Great riches are being taken from our land for the benefit of a few, including the Government of Canada and Ontario, who receive large royalty payments while we receive so little,” Spence said during a lunch speech Tuesday.

“Our lands have been stripped from us and yet development on our land area in timber, hydro and mining have created unlimited wealth for non-native people and their governments,” she said. Continue Reading →

Strengthening the chain between First Nations and non-aboriginal Canadians – by Catherine Murton Stoehr (Toronto Star – January 26, 2012)

The Toronto Star, has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

Catherine Murton Stoehr is an instructor in the department of history at Nipissing University.

On Tuesday, Assembly of First Nations national chief Shawn Atleo presented Governor General David Johnston a silver wampum belt symbolizing the relationship between the British people and the First Nations. He stopped short of saying what we all know to be true, that the chain is almost rusted out.

One of the central reasons for this breakdown is that non-aboriginal Canadians see all money and resources given to First Nations people as charity, while people in Atleo’s world see it as rent. If you’re handing out charity, you get to set conditions like submission to unelected managers. But people paying rent don’t get to interfere in their landlords’ business.

When British officials took over the land and destroyed the hunt in northern Ontario, they promised to immediately rebuild aboriginal communities’ infrastructure and then to support that infrastructure forever. In the same way that a lease remains in effect as long as a person rents a house, the treaties remain in effect as long as non-First Nations people live in Canada. Consistently fulfilling the terms of the treaties is the minimum ethical requirement of living on the land of Canada. Continue Reading →

[Resource] Revenue sharing, education key to native self-reliance – John Ivison (National Post – January 26, 2012)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence didn’t imagine she’d ever address the venerable Economic Club of Canada or face a bank of television cameras in the nation’s capital. “When I declared an emergency last September, it wasn’t my intention to cause embarrassment to Canada and I didn’t plan this type of exposure. I just wanted to help my community,” she told a lunchtime crowd.

Whatever her intent, she succeeded in getting millions of dollars of aid shipped into her northern Ontario reserve, in the form of 22 new modular homes, a retrofit of the community’s healing lodge and emergency supplies like water purification systems and health equipment.

But while everyone can agree Attawapiskat was a humanitarian crisis, there are divergent views on how it came about.

Judging by her remarks, Chief Spence is in no doubt – it was all Ottawa’s fault. In a classic case of blame-shift, she said the housing crisis was the result of government funding cuts and broken promises. Continue Reading →

Are the Conservatives making Northern Gateway pipeline hearings irrelevant? – by Tim Harper (Toronto Star – January 18, 2012)

The Toronto Star, has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

OTTAWA—Provincial premier or pipeline protester, you had a common plight Tuesday. You both found yourself in British Columbia, pushing back against that immovable object, Stephen Harper.

At their waterfront hotel in Victoria, most premiers took turns over two days spitting disdain at Harper’s 10-year, no-strings-attached health-care funding plan presented to their finance ministers — without debate — last month.

Harper was unmoved.

In an interview with CBC anchor Peter Mansbridge, he told the provinces to get on with health-care innovation (they did) and stop obsessing about money. Continue Reading →

After Attawapiskat, what? – by Jim Foulds (Toronto Star – December 29, 2011)

The Toronto Star, has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

Jim Foulds is a freelance writer in Thunder Bay. He was the MPP for Port Arthur from 1971 to 1987.

When Canadians first saw the news about Attawapiskat they knew that no matter who is at fault, nobody in Canada should be using a plastic bucket for a toilet and have to dump it outside on a regular basis. Nobody should be calling a shack with mould on the walls home. And nobody in Ontario should be paying $23.50 for six apples and four small bottles of juice.

With little evidence, Prime Minister Stephen Harper charged that the funds that the federal government had transferred to the reserve over several years had been mismanaged. With no consultation he put the band under third party management.

(Earlier this year several flooded towns along the Assiniboine River called for provincial and federal help. Think how the municipalities would have reacted if, immediately after asking for aid, they had been placed under third party management.)

The Harper message to Attawapiskat was clear. Blame the victims; discredit the messenger; and sow doubt in the minds of Canadians. Continue Reading →

Mining sector supports First Nations – by Pierre Gratton and Tom Ormsby (Saskatoon StarPhoenix – December 16, 2011)

Gratton is president CEO of the Mining Association of Canada and Ormsby is director of external & corporate affairs at De Beers Canada. A recent StarPhoenix editorial reflected on the mining boom underway in Saskatchewan and the need for the mining sector to partner with Canada’s First Nations. We couldn’t agree more.

For evidence that the mining sector understands this fully, one need look no further than Cameco, the world’s largest uranium miner headquartered in Saskatoon, to find the company with the largest number of First Nations employees in Canada.

In fact, there are now close to 200 agreements between mining companies and aboriginal communities across Canada. These typically include hiring targets, business opportunities and training, financial compensation and other components to ensure that local aboriginal communities are primary beneficiaries of mining developments that occur on their traditional lands. Continue Reading →

Rethinking the future of Ontario’s north – by Janet Sumner and Anna Baggio (Toronto Star – December 7, 2011)

The Toronto Star, has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

Janet Sumner is executive director and Anna Baggio is conservation land use planning director for CPAWS-Wildlands League, based in Ontario.

Like many other Canadians, we’ve been searching our souls in response to the housing crisis in Attawapiskat, home to the Muskego Cree First Nation. We have visited Attawapiskat several times. We’ve stayed at the Kataquapit Inn and enjoyed the community’s hospitality, including a traditional feast of caribou and lake sturgeon. Our work to conserve Ontario’s northern boreal forest has been enriched by the insights of the elders and other members of the community.

That is why the people of Attawapiskat are very much in our hearts today. While a donation to the Red Cross is always a good idea, we believe Canada needs to do far more to fix the problems bedevilling Attawapiskat and many other northern First Nations communities.

It’s time for a fundamental rethink of the relationship between major industrial players in the north, our governments and affected First Nations communities.

We first became involved with Attawapiskat when the environmental assessment of the nearby De Beers Victor Diamond Mine was underway nearly seven years ago. Continue Reading →

Attawapiskat gets housing help – by Barrie Mckenna (Globe and Mail – December 12, 2011)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

Longer term, Mr. Angus wants Ottawa and the province to
start talking about sharing the economic benefits of the
development of nearby diamond mines and other resources.
That’s what Hydro-Québec did with the Cree on the Quebec
side of James Bay as it built massive hydroelectric

OTTAWA— Ottawa responded to the Attawapiskat Cree’s plea for more housing by promising Sunday to ship the impoverished community an additional seven modular homes, bringing the total to 22.

However, amid efforts to ease the housing crisis, community leaders continue to clash with the Harper government over its decision to take over the band’s finances earlier this month.

Ottawa has blamed the community’s problems on financial mismanagement of roughly $90-million in federal funds spent in Attawapiskat in the past five years.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan insisted Sunday the community has now agreed to co-operate with a federally appointed third-party financial manager – a claim band Chief Theresa Spence vehemently denied. Continue Reading →

Marketing the Aboriginal housing crisis – by Simon Houpt (Globe and Mail – December 10, 2011)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

The tragic tale of Attawapiskat grabbed the spotlight on the national stage only two weeks ago, but it was in rehearsal for six years.

In 2005, New Democrat MP Charlie Angus was trying to bring attention to the misery in Kashechewan, a Cree community on the shores of James Bay struggling with water-borne illnesses, when he came to a realization: People wouldn’t care unless they saw the evidence. So he orchestrated a press conference at Queen’s Park and released horrific photographs taken by doctors in the community.

“It was when we came to Toronto with the pictures of the children that suddenly it hit home,” Mr. Angus explained on Friday. “Pictures always make the difference.”

When Attawapiskat declared a state of emergency in late October, Mr. Angus knew he could go much further by leveraging a pair of tools that weren’t around in 2005: Facebook and YouTube. Continue Reading →

In Attawapiskat, deep-rooted problems won’t disappear in an instant – by Genesee Keevil (Globe and Mail – December 10, 2011)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

There is no word for diamond in Cree. “They hear about the diamonds,” said Maryanne Wheesk, a middle-aged grandmother in the remote James Bay community of Attawapiskat, “and they think we’re rich.”

I sat down with Ms. Wheesk two years ago, long before Attawapiskat had declared a state of emergency, and long before a housing crisis transformed the mispronounced dot on a map to a mainstay of the national conversation.

The plight of the inhabitants here is a familiar one among isolated aboriginal communities. They lack access to clean drinking water. They lack adequate shelter. And the persistent questions about economic viability are lost in a haze of mutual recrimination with Ottawa: Complaints about mistreatment by the federal government are met with accusations of fiscal mismanagement and poor governance.

But there is one thing unique to Attawapiskat, something that had – for a time, at least – given residents reason to believe their story would be a different one. Continue Reading →

Far North mischief – by Stan Sudol (National Post – December 7, 2011)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

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 →

With millions pouring into Attawapiskat, colonial blame only goes so far – by John Ivison (National Post – December 7, 2011)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

Failed colonial policies are the biggest obstacles to First Nation progress, Shawn Atleo told a gathering of native chiefs in Ottawa Tuesday. The Assembly of First Nations chief was referring to moves such as Ottawa’s decision to put the troubled Attawapiskat reserve in northern Ontario under third party management. “We simply can’t lurch from crisis to crisis and we can’t accept externally imposed solutions,” he said, before lauding the chief of Attawapiskat for demonstrating transparency and accountability.

Yet the decision to intervene was simply the government exercising its fiduciary duty. The apparent mismanagement of this band by its chief, council and the co-manager, who is meant to be advising the chief but turns out to be her “life partner,” made the worst of an already bad situation. Chief Theresa Spence spoke to the chiefs in Ottawa Tuesday and urged them to take an aggressive stand with the government. “We’re not going to take it anymore,” she said.

The simple fact is, she has been stripped of authority because money has been pouring into the reserve and yet conditions have deteriorated beyond any acceptable level. Continue Reading →

CBC Radio Thunder Bay interview with Ben Bradshaw about Aboriginal/Mining Company IBAs (November 14, 2011)

Ben Bradshaw is a researcher in the Department of Geography at the University of Guelph, and the founder of the Impact and Benefit Agreement Research Network.

In a November 14, 2011 interview with Thunder Bay CBC Radio, Ben Bradshaw discusses various IBA Agreements between Aboriginal communities and mining companies across Canada including the current issues in Attawapiskat.

Impact and Benefit Agreement (IBA) Research Network


Notwithstanding an absence of legislation forcing their use, over the past two decades a number of Impact and Benefit Agreements (IBAs) have been established between mining firms and Aboriginal communities in support of some familiar projects across northern Canada. For example, IBAs were used to facilitate the development of the Northwest Territories’ three diamond mines (Ekati, Diavik and Snap Lake), as well as Inco’s Voisey’s Bay project in Labrador. Continue Reading →

The Arrogance of Inco – by Val Ross (Originally Published in May 1979 – Part 1 of 4)

“The Arrogance of Inco” was originally published as the cover story in the May, 1979 issue of Canadian Business. Reporter Val Ross, who died in 2008, spent two and a half months researching and writing this lengthy expose of the then Inco Limited. It has become a “classic must read” for anyone wishing to understand the often bitter history between Sudbury and the company that defined the Canadian mining industry.

A century of power and profit – and now a sea of troubles

NICKEL, INCO. Clack the consonants of these two words on your tongue, and they sound similar. They used to be synonymous – nickel, Inco – in the public mind undoubtedly, in the company’s mind, indelibly.

The International nickel Co. (it was renamed Inco Ltd. In 1976) was in up to its elbows at the birth of the nickel industry, almost as responsible for nickel’s development as nickel was responsible for making Inco Ltd. the billion-dollar multinational empire it is today. Inco was nickel. And the company men and the metal left their characteristic mark on each other’s fate.

The metal, element 28, is greyish-white. You might describe the company’s subdued, Anglo-Saxon character in the same way. Among the metal’s most important properties are resistance to oxidization and corrosion, and insolubility in water. Alone, nickel us brittle, but it merges promiscuously with iron and other metals into a host of tough alloys. The company is tough too, resistant to change, at times rigid. And the men of Inco have forged some odd business and political alliances to increase their company’s strength and lustre.

Continue Reading →

[Vale Strike] In Sudbury it’s Restive, Not Festive – by Tony Van Alphen (Toronto Star-December 19, 2009)

Tony Van Alphen is a Business Reporter for the Toronto Star, which has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on Canada’s federal and provincial politics as well as shaping public opinion. This article was originally published on Saturday, December 19, 2009.

Workers’ mettle gets test as Vale Inco strike drags into bitter northern winter , It’s a war zone here. Their tactics are designed to provoke us like never before. They’re not interested in getting back to bargaining.

SUDBURY–Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” is blasting from a satellite radio in the tent’s makeshift living room.

A couple of plush La-Z-Boy rockers and a couch surround a blazing wood stove. The fresh Christmas tree in the corner gives the place a cozy holiday feeling.

Three hearty men in heavy overcoats and toques hover around the stove, slap their gloves and exchange brotherly greetings. The song ends and they step outside into another world.

There’s not a lot of love or warmth there. They’re on the picket line just after sunrise a few days before Christmas at Vale Inco’s Clarabelle Mill.

It’s a flashpoint in the five-month standoff between some 3,100 workers and one of the world’s biggest mining companies.

The workers face a bitter wind, -20C temperatures and a company spending millions of dollars to keep them in line. Strikers walk the line and delay trucks and cars for 12 to 15 minutes before allowing them through to the sprawling mill up the road. Then, they walk some more. Continue Reading →