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10 Feb 2012

Chris Arsenault, Al Jazeera

Canada mining boom leaves natives in the cold

Despite living just 90km from a massive diamond mine, Jackie Hookimaw Witt has watched poverty tear at the fabric of Attawapiskat, an indigenous community in northern Canada..."Why are our people living in such extreme poverty when we are so close to this rich mine?" asked Witt, a mining critic born and raised in Attawapiskat...A spokesperson for De Beers, the international firm which owns the Victor mine, told Al Jazeera that Canada’s government and indigenous groups need to work out some kind of revenue sharing agreement. Presently, De Beers pays money to Attawapiskat via a trust fund the company has set up, although it says it is not mandated by law to do this...Critics say the company profits at the expense of local communities and public revenue. "In 2010, the company reported that they didn't pay any taxes at either of their Canadian mines," said Ramsey Hart, an analyst with Mining Watch Canada, an environmental watchdog.