ATTAWAPISKAT – The De Beers Winter Road blockade continues. A strong OPP presence is headed to Attawapiskat First Nation today. Sources report to NetNewsledger that ten Ontario Provincial Police cruisers, with four officers in each unit are headed into the community today.
OPP head to Attawapiskat
The blockade on the Winter Road into Attawapiskat has cut off supplies into the De Beers Victor Diamond Mine. De Beers has hinted that the blockade on the Winter Road could shut down the mine.
For seventeen of the twenty days that the road has been open, the road has been blocked. The protest is centred around concerns over the Impact Benefit Agreement. A week ago, the thought on the ground was that De Beers was willing to re-open talks with Attawapiskat, however De Beers Canada spokeman Tom Ormsby states there were no plans to do that.
“We have previous agreements and arrangements and understandings in place that we were supposed to access that road based on the relationship and partnership we have and we’ve not had that consistency,” states Ormsby. The original Impact Benefit Agreement was approved in a vote by Attawapiskat residents.
The blockade has the potential to cripple the De Beers Victor Diamond Mine.
The Wynne Government which has stated it wants to have better relationships with First Nations has not been openly engaged in fixing the situation.
This week, the courts ruled the blockade illegal and have demanded that the road be re-opened. It is possible the large OPP convoy headed to Attawapiskat today may be enforcing the injunction.
Earlier reports from Attawapiskat have suggested that most of the people staying on the blockade are older or ill. It is not known at this time (12:30EST) if other factors have caused the OPP response of about forty officers heading to the situation are a result of a larger blockade.
Sources have told Netnewsledger that the response will likely be seen as “overkill” and could cause an escalation in the situation.
Details on this breaking story will be updated as they come in.