Slide 2 Slide 2

Mining

After the Creator had made all the animals and had made the first people, he said to Wisakedjak, "Take good care of my people, and teach them how to live. Show them all the bad roots, all the roots that will hurt them and kill them. Do not let the people or the animals quarrel with each other." But Wisakedjak did not obey the Creator. He let the creatures do whatever they wished to do. Soon they were quarrelling and fighting and shedding much blood.

The Creator, greatly displeased, warned Wisakedjak, "If you do not keep the ground clean, I will take everything away from you, and you will be miserable." But Wisakedjak did not believe the Creator and did not obey. Becoming more and more careless and disobedient, he tricked the animals and the people and made them angry with each other. They quarreled and fought so much that the earth became red with blood.

The Creator made all things again. He commanded the rivers to take the salt water back to the sea. Then he created mankind, the animals of today, and the trees. He took from Wisakedjak all power over people and animals and left him only the power to flatter and to deceive.

[CREE CREATION STORY]

Case Study Summary from Section 10 of Toolkit – Victor Diamond Mine

The Victor Diamond Mine environmental assessment (EA) covers a large range of events that a First Nation might experience as part of a large industrial project in its traditional territory, including: negotiations; creation of a memorandum of understanding; and public hearings. This environmental assessment is also an example of how different First Nations can respond to the demands of a project proponent. The Impact Benefit Agreements that were created between First Nations and the proponent in this case are frequently looked to as good examples of how Impact Benefit Agreements can be structured to create economic benefits and increase input in environmental decision-making for First Nations. At the same time, this example shows that even with good agreements in place, communities must still work hard to make sure the agreements are fulfilled and their interests are defended.

The Victor Diamond Mine is being built on the traditional territory of a number of Cree communities along James Bay. Many people in these communities continue to rely on traditional harvesting and hunting as a food source. The impacts of the diamond mine on traditional hunting and fishing grounds were a large source of concern for First Nations. In addition, gaining access to employment and economic opportunities that could result from the mine construction was also a priority for First Nations.

This project is the first diamond mine project in Ontario, and also the first large development project in the muskeg of the James Bay Lowlands. The decisions made as part of this project will be precedent setting in the James Bay region, and throughout Ontario.

LAND AND HISTORICAL USE

The western shores of James Bay are characterized by broad tundra lowlands. The vegetation is mostly muskeg and ecologically diverse tidal marshes. Archaeological evidence indicates continuous human habitation of this area for more than 4000 years. The diverse vegetation attracts many caribou and other animals, and in the summer the coastal areas are home to thousands of migratory birds. The lakes and streams that flow to the James Bay are home to a vast variety of fish.

The Cree have lived in the James Bay Lowlands for thousands of years. The Cree have always been involved in hunting and trade amongst themselves and with other tribes. In the early 1600’s, Europeans began to explore the James Bay area, looking for a Northwest Passage to India. In the 1800’s, the Hudson’s Bay Company established trading posts in the region. The 20th century brought with it a number of changes that deeply disrupted the lives of the people living in the James Bay lowlands. The arrival of Christian missionaries and the construction of the mid-Canada radar line greatly affected Cree ways of life and traditions.

Today, the Mushkegowuk Council is the regional organization that represents seven Cree First Nations in the James Bay Basin: Attawapiskat; Moose Cree; Fort Albany; Kashechewan; Taykwa Tagamou; Chapleau Cree; and Missanabie Cree. Together these First Nations have a population of about 10,000 people.