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Case Studies

Detailed Case Study from Section 10 of Toolkit Book - Victor Diamond Mine 

The Victor Diamond Mine Project was the first development of its kind in the James Bay region. Its presence will have a large impact on the environment of the region and on the lives of the people who live there. The purpose of the environmental assessment was to ensure that the risks of the project would be known and minimized as much as possible. 

While there are many risks associated with this project, there is also the opportunity for some benefits to be gained by the communities affected. The Impact Benefit Agreements that were signed between DeBeers and First Nations communities outline those benefits. The IBA between DeBeers and Attawapiskat provides a good example of how these agreements can contain not only economic benefits, but also outline how a community can have greater input into the environmental management of a project. 

On the other hand, since the opening of the mine in 2008, there has been some controversy about how DeBeers has fulfilled the promises it made in the Impact Benefit Agreement. Members of Attawapiskat First Nation held a road blockade in February 2009 because they felt that the community was not directly benefiting from the project. As a result, the community continues to negotiate with DeBeers and to discuss the matter internally. 

The Three Nation Bridge case study shows that First Nations people can work with the Ontario and the Canadian government to develop a good environmental assessment. The EA process developed during this project not only helped the First Nation people to understand the issues but increased the awareness of the government departments and the local non-native people. The actual Three Nation Bridge EA not only finalized the placement of the new low-level bridge but also determined the structural design, size and pier structures that proved to be both cost effective and esthetically pleasing. The areas leading to the new bridge are now being considered for cultural and spiritual commemoration using parks and structures. The Department of the Environment within the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne has been asked to harmonize these environmental assessments. 

A common vision of protecting the environment and designing a new bridge that everyone could be proud of was accomplished by the collaborative work of many skilled people. First Nations people added technical skills but our best contribution was teaching our process for cooperation. My great grand mother would be proud of both our peoples. 

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