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Diamond mining in the Northwest Territories

THE DECHI LAOT'I FIRST NATION IN WEKWETI (NORTHWEST TERRITORIES)

The Dechi Laot'I First Nation is in Wekweti, North West Territories on Snare Lake. Former chief and elder Alexis Arrowmaker who brought families to the area to keep traditional living and values, founded Dechi Laot’I. Today, there are 140 people living there. Before the chief made it a home, it was an outpost hunting camp. Hunting, fishing and trapping are still major activities today. The community got native status in 1996 that gave them a claim to land.

180 km northeast of Wekweti is a diamond mine that was opened in 1998. Wekweti is its’ closest neighbor. BHP Mines, which owns most of the diamond mine, had to talk about the environmental and cultural impacts of the mine before they could do big things with it. The Dogrib Nations of Treaty 11 were the first to sign an Impact and Benefit Agreement (IBA) with them.

This meant BHP Mines had to keep Dogrib up to date on the environment around the mine. BHP must talk with Aboriginal people about activities that might touch burial grounds or sacred places. Also, they made sure to hire and train Aboriginal people.

The information in this article was obtained from:
http://www.bhpbilliton.com/home/Pages/default.aspx,
Indigenous & Northern Affairs Canada, and
BHP Diamond Facts, Issue 3, 1999.

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