April 18, 2019
Friday last week, Minister Schumann joined Nancy Orem Lyman of the Diamond Empowerment Fund and Winter Bailey of the Mine Training Society to announce $25,000 in scholarships for students in mining-related fields.
Most around the NWT know about the Mine Training Society and their work. But what is the Diamond Empowerment Fund, and why does it matter to the Northwest Territories? We sat down with Orem Lyman for a Q+A session to find out.
What does the Diamond Empowerment Fund Do?
Founded in 2007 by De Beers and others in the Diamond Industry, the Diamond Empowerment Fund (D.E.F) has a dual mission:
- Support education and entrepreneurial initiatives that develop and empower people in natural diamond producing and manufacturing countries.
- Communicate the industry’s ‘diamonds do good’ stories to consumers. The Diamonds Do Good Initiative was developed by D.E.F as the vehicle through which to share these stories with consumers, to give them a better understanding of, confidence about, love for and interest in purchasing natural diamonds.
Why did your organization think the Northwest Territories was an ideal place to make this kind of investment?
The Northwest Territories (NWT) is home to major diamond mines including the EKATI mine (owned by Dominion Diamond Mines, Diavik mine (joint venture between Rio Tinto and Dominion), and Gahcho Kué Diamond Mine (joint venture between De Beers Canada and Mountain Province Diamonds).
The NWT government has a robust mineral development strategy that protects the environment, enhances indigenous engagement and community capacity building, promotes sustainability and leverages a local workforce; all while fostering attractive investment opportunities for the benefit of the local communities.
What do you as an organization hope that this partnership with the Mine Training Society can yield?
To empower young people living in diamond mining communities to advance their education to either begin or further their careers in the diamond industry including entrepreneurial training.
How have you seen diamond mining affect positive change in communities around the world?
Over 10 million people worldwide are employed by the diamond industry and diamond producers are a leading source of high paying jobs in the countries in which they operate. I personally have traveled to the diamond mining areas across Africa including Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, and South Africa.
Through my travels, I have witnessed education initiatives being implemented from primary through the University level, the encouragement of entrepreneurial studies and support of entrepreneurial endeavors, infrastructure improvements, and access to healthcare.
What kinds of parallels do you see in the Northwest Territories?
I see the leadership of the government in taking great responsibility to be the caretaker of their vast diamond deposits and to ensure the culture and autonomy of the indigenous people is respected as is the protection of the beautiful environment under which lie these miracles of nature.
I see mining companies not only following the government’s lead, but going above and beyond these measures to ensure the sustainability of natural diamonds and the traditions and livelihoods of the communities surrounding their mines.
Is there a message you would like to leave Northwest Territories residents about the role diamond mining can play in communities?
Responsible diamond mining is an accelerator for economic growth and social prosperity.