When you think of diamonds, you probably think of romance, weddings, and Valentine’s Day. And it’s not by chance that we think so: a century of marketing has convinced us that diamonds symbolize love.
In Canada, magazine advertisements celebrate the “purity” of diamonds from Canada’s North as an ethical alternative to conflict diamonds.
But this marketing strategy actually hides huge social problems that people linked to mining say they have experienced. This includes some of the highest rates of violence against women in Canada.
The story our guests are telling today is not about numbers. Instead, they share stories collected and collected through interviews and sharing circles about how lives changed after the mines opened.
Since the start of diamond mining in Canada in 1998, Canada has become the third largest producer of diamonds in the world. In 2019, the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry linked resource extraction to spikes in violence against women.
On today’s episode of Don’t Call Me ResilientI chat with Rebecca Hall, Assistant Professor of Global Development Studies at Queen’s University and author of Refracted Economies: Diamond Mining and Social Reproduction in the North.
Hall said this in our interview:
“A mine comes to town and all of a sudden it has this huge presence. And you see flyers everywhere trying to recruit workers, but as fast as it comes, it can go. So again you had disruption after disruption. All of these things taken together can create the conditions for gender-based violence.
Della Green, former Victim Services Coordinator, Native Women’s Association of the Northwest Territories.
Green said this about how she felt after first moving to Yellowknife and her husband went to work in the mines:
“I was so isolated and couldn’t find anything that could support women. There were no programs. There was no meeting. I was lost the first time when I moved up there and I don’t know what it was like for other women, probably the same.
One of the women Hall interviewed for her book told her, “They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend. I don’t know which girls, because it’s definitely not just anyone here.
Read more: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls: An Epidemic on Both Sides of the Medicine Line
An unedited transcript of the episode is available here.
ICYMI — Articles published in The Conversation
Further Reading + Listening
- Refracted Economies: Diamond Mining and Social Reproduction in the Northby Rebecca Hall
- “Diamonds Are Forever: A Decolonizing and Feminist Approach to Diamond Mining in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories», a thesis by Rebecca Hall
- “Final Report on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls”
- Keetsahnak / Our Missing and Murdered Indigenous Sistersedited by Kim Anderson, Maria Campbell and Christi Belcourt
- “Out of sight, out of mind», a report by Amnesty International
- “My Pain: The Struggle to Report Sexual Abuse in Zimbabwe’s Diamond Industry», by the International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity
- Mining company and women’s council tackle domestic violence togetherby Simon Whitehouse in NNSL Media
- “A Rights-Based Approach to Indigenous Women and Gender Inequalities in Resource Development in Canada’s North” in Realby Konstantia Koutouki, Katherine Lofts and Giselle Davidian
- “All That Glitters: Diamond Mining and Tåîchô Youth in Behchokö, Northwest Territories” in Arcticby Colleen M. Davison and Penelope Hawe
- “Gendered communication on social networks around mining: patriarchy, diamonds and the search for feminist solidarity online” in Gender & Developmentby Juliet Gudhlanga and Samuel J. Spiegel
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Don’t Call Me Resilient is produced by The Conversation Canada. This podcast was produced with the support of an Innovation in Journalism grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The series is produced and hosted by Vinita Srivastava. My co-producers are: Haley Lewis, associate producer Vaishnavi Dandekar and sound producer Lygia Navarro. Reza Dahya is our sound designer. Jennifer Moroz is our Consulting Producer. Lisa Varano is our Audience Development Editor and Scott White is the CEO of Conversation Canada.