By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
ATTAWAPISKAT–Backed by a number of community members, Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence on Saturday turned away a sheriff who arrived in the community to serve the remaining blockaders who have barricaded an ice road leading to a diamond mine for a week.
Spence handed a letter to the sheriff forbidding him from entering the community.
The sheriff arrived by plane to deliver an injunction to the people still on the blockade which is on an ice road leading to De Beers’ Victor diamond mine, which sits about 90 kilometres west of the community.
De Beers obtained the injunction from an Ontario judge on Friday.
After conferring with two OPP officers who awaited his arrival, the sheriff returned to his airplane and flew away.
Attawapiskat residents arrived in about a dozen vehicles to greet the sheriff. They waved goodbye as the sheriff left.
The airport drama followed a tentative agreement that was reached between De Beers, the band council and the remaining blockaders who have rallied around Rebecca Iahtail, the last holdout following a community meeting on Friday.
The agreement would require De Beers to commit to dealing with a number of grievances, including the housing situation in Attawapiskat, Iahtail said.
The blockade is expected to end sometime Sunday after a senior De Beers official signs the agreement.
De Beers claims the blockade is threatening its operations for the rest of the year.
The mine ships up about 11 million litres of fuel up the winter road every year, along with machinery and parts too heavy to fly into the mine’s airport.
The mine also uses the winter road to truck-up hazardous substances like ammonia nitrate and truck out “hazardous waste material” that can’t be flown out of the mine.