Inuit workers at Agnico Eagle's Meadowbank mine allege discrimination
Worker alleges supervisors communicated only in French, leading to safety issues
Some Inuit workers at Agnico Eagle's Meadowbank mine near Baker Lake, Nunavut, say they're the subject of discrimination, and that it's causing some safety concerns.
Cameron Issakiark says when he worked as a mechanic's helper at Meadowbank, he was harassed by his francophone counterparts.
"The guy, he told me: 'Us French people, we're beautiful, and you Inuit are ugly,'" he says. "[The supervisors] talk to me about discrimination, harassment... zero tolerance, but I didn't see that when it happened to me."
At one time, Issakiark says, he was left on a blasting site fifteen minutes before a planned explosion, because his supervisor could barely speak English and announced the blast in French. He says he's reported his treatment to supervisors, but so far, no action has been taken.
Agnico Eagle's director of communications says that staff are always reminded to use English to communicate.
"They're constantly reminded at the beginning of crew shifts during safety meetings," says Dale Coffin, "that all employees need to respect the fact, for safety reasons, that we need to use English as the language when communicating with fellow employees during work times."
Coffin says that Agnico Eagle has an optional program for employees who want to improve their English.
Meadowbank, located 75 kilometres north of Baker Lake, Nunavut, employs more than 700 people from across Canada.