All That Glitters: Diamond Mining and Tłįchǫ Youth in Behchokǫ, Northwest Territories
Keywords:Aboriginal health, youth, diamond mining, resource development, education, employment, impacts and benefits
Currently, Canada’s northern territories have three active diamond mines and one mine under construction, and one mine has recently closed. In response to local concerns, and in partnership with members of the Tłįchǫ First Nation, this ethnographic study examines the positive and detrimental impacts of diamond mining on youth in Behchokǫ, Northwest Territories, using data collected from intensive fieldwork and participant observation, focus groups, interviews, and archival documents. The study of mining impacts remains a complex and contested field. Youth in Behchokǫ experience both negative and positive effects of mining. Diamond mining companies are places of employment and act as community resources; their development has influenced the transience of individuals in the region, the identity and roles of family caregivers, the motivation of students, the purpose of schooling, and the level of economic prosperity in some (but not all) families. The diverse impacts of these changes on the health of northern individuals and communities can be understood only within the broader context of social, economic, political, and environmental changes occurring in the Arctic today. Results of this study help inform ongoing efforts by those in Behchokǫ and the Northwest Territories to monitor the effects of diamond mining and maximize the potential benefits for local people, including youth.