Attawapiskat protesters demand new agreement


ATTAWAPISKAT - The people behind the latest blockade on the ice road to Victor diamond mine are demanding Tony Guthrie, president of De Beers Canada, sign an agreement with the demonstrators.
However, a company spokesman said that is unlikely to happen.

Tom Ormsby, director of external and corporate affairs, told QMI Agency the company already has dispute-settlement procedures in place and agreed to review with community members the benefit agreement package signed with the First Nation as recent as this past summer.

Ormsby said the latest demand runs "contrary" to previous agreements they have made with the community.

"This is a new set of requests that doesn't align with what we've agreed to."

The demonstrators are demanding the creation of a "joint dispute resolution committee" that would address issues such as employment and training, housing, and compensation for community members whose traplines are located near the mine site.

The demands were faxed to the company.

The blockade, located at a turnoff about 100 kilometres from the Victor mine, remains in place despite the fact De Beers won a court injunction in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Friday prohibiting anyone from obstructing access to the south winter ice road leading to the mine site.
The road generally provides a 45-day window for De Beers to bring heavy supplies such as fuel and equipment to the mine.

However, the company has been prevented from using it for more than two weeks now as a result of two separate blockades that were set up.

After a settlement was reached with one group, a second blockade was set up within a few days after and that one is still in place.

Asked what is the next step, Ormsby replied, "We're still waiting for the court order to be acted upon by the proper authorities. We have no role in that."

Ormsby said these disruptions pose a threat to necessary supplies being delivered and are adding costs that could have severe consequences on the future of the mine.

In the meantime, a followup to Friday's injunction hearing is scheduled for Thursday in Timmins Superior Court. The order will be reviewed by Justice Robert Riopelle and there will be an opportunity for interested parties or the demonstrators named in the order to make a presentation to the court.

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