In 2007, Canada was the third-largest producer of diamonds in the world.
Marketed as ethical alternatives to ”blood diamonds,” Canadian gemstones are
said to go beyond basic “conflict-free” designations by providing northern Indigenous
peoples with high-wage work and training. This article makes two connected
points. First, it describes how the ethics of diamond mining are connected to the
uneasy management of people groomed to do extractive work. Second, following
the development and delivery of job training programs for Indigenous people over
the course of the financial crisis of 2008–2009, this article reveals how mandatory
“soft skills” courses attempt to adjust would-be worker speech to meet corporate
norms in ways that were essential in maintaining the ethical sign value of subarctic
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