TORONTO, Aug. 19 /CNW/ - Attawapiskat First Nation community members are
deeply concerned that the wealth generated by diamond exploration and mining
in the traditional territory of the First Nation is not being equitably
"Our people are suffering in Third World poverty while living next door
to one of the largest and richest diamond mining operations in the world,"
said Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Hall. "We have made efforts with
De Beers as well as Ontario and Canada for many months in an attempt to
address our issues of poverty because our people are suffering, our
infrastructure is crumbling, and our patience is running out."
An estimated 50 Attawapiskat First Nation members staged a peaceful,
legal protest outside the DeBeers Canada office today.
Some of the members present are also evacuees from a public sewage system
catastrophe which has destroyed a number of community homes. One of the
community's elders died during the current evacuation.
"We cannot continue to stand by as our people suffer," Hall said. "We
have approached Ontario and Canada with concerns relating to the issuing of
permits and their apparent lack of leadership in nurturing a workable
relationship between First Nations and industry. It is time they stepped up to
A remote fly in community, Attawapiskat is confronted with significant
challenges, which it cannot remedy for lack of funding. These include an acute
housing shortage, overcrowding, toxic contamination of its school and homes,
and other public health and safety issues such as the failed sewage system
which is backing up and requiring the mass evacuation of residents. The
community is deeply concerned that only a fair and equitable distribution of
wealth from the commercial mining activities in its traditional territory will
permit it to address the crisis management demanded by its inadequate
educational, public health, and physical infrastructure systems. Attawapiskat
residents are currently trapped in this situation without options.
"We have not come to Toronto to criticize De Beers but to say we want to
work together so that all parties can benefit," said Hall.
Attawapiskat First Nation is a remote community on the west coast of
James Bay with a population of 1,800 on reserve and a total population of
2,300 and is approximately 700 kilometres north of Timmins, Ontario.
For further information:
For further information: Chief Theresa Hall, Attawapiskat First Nation,
(705) 997-2166, (705) 365-8507 cell; Deputy Chief Theresa Spence, Attawapiskat
First Nation, (807) 629-6704 cell; Greg Shisheesh, Community Liaison/Protest
Co-ordinator, (807) 472-3569 cell; Joyce Hunter, A/Director of Communications,
Nishnawbe Aski Nation, (807) 472-5638 cell