May 1, 2019, unceded traditional territories of the Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), Stó:lō (Stolo), səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) peoples.
On May 1 as millions around the world rallied against corporate power on International Workers’ Day, the Mining Justice Alliance (MJA) gathered with supporters and allies outside the BC “Mining Person of the Year” gala. We held a “counter-gala” to celebrate “Mining Resisters of the Year”—communities and individuals standing for justice and self-determination in the face of threats posed by Canadian mining projects.
Our “counter-gala” took place in a plaza and on the sidewalk outside the industry event at Vancouver’s upscale Terminal City Club. The counter-gala opened, with platters of hors d’oeuvres, to the lively Colombian Rhythms of the Breaking Boundaries Band. Volunteers displayed the beautiful 30 ft. mural: ‘SI A LA VIDA (yes to life)’ that was created by sixty young adults from San Miguel Ixtahuacan and nearby towns in Guatemala. The mural conveys a powerful message about how Vancouver-based Goldcorp has impacted these young artists’ lives.
Our program started with a solemn note, as all present shared in a moment of silence to recognize those who have been injured or killed while opposing Canadian mining projects. We then held an awards ceremony to honour the following 2019 Mining Resisters of the Year:
Unión de Ejidos y Comunidades en Defensa de la Tierra, el Agua y la Vida, Atcolhua (Ixtacamaxtitlan, Puebla, México)
Colectivo Defensores del Agua y La Vida—Water and Life Defenders Collective (Loja Province, Ecuador)
Azacualpa Environmental Committee and ASONOG allies (Copán, Honduras)
Atty. Neri Javier Colmenares (Philippines)
Secwepemc Communities impacted by Mt. Polley Mine (Secwepemc Territories)
Alliance of Solwara Warriors and allies (New Ireland Province, Papua New Guinea)
Tŝilhqot’in Nation, Tl’esqox First Nation (Chief Francis Leceese)
Marinduque Council for Environmental Concern (MACEC) (Marinduque, Philippines)
Xinca Parliament (San Rafael Las Flores, Santa Rosa Department, Guatemala)
During the ceremony, we heard about these grassroots struggles from speakers who nominated the 2019 resisters or from representatives of the communities themselves. We heard directly from representatives of the Tsilhqot’in Nation and from a community member of Loja Province, Ecuador. We read a statement sent by the Alliance of Solwara Warriors in New Ireland Province, Papua New Guinea and we listened to a series of powerful audio recordings sent by members of the sovereign Indigenous Xinca Parliament in Southern Guatemala.
The event drew to a close with announcements about how to stay in touch, with an urgent call to push for public mechanisms that could hold Canadian corporations accountable,_and with a creative expression of resistance through parody.
Music and dancing continued until the arrival of the Vancouver and District Labour Council’s MayDay march – when we joined allies in marching for workers’ rights on International Workers’ Day.
For more photos: https://www.facebook.com/MiningJusticeAlliance/
Thank you to all those who attended and supported this inspiring event!
International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP-Canada) | Migrante BC | Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights (CPSHR) | the Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU), Simon Fraser University | the Reverend Emilie Smith, co-president SICSAL, (The Oscar Romero International Christian Network in Solidarity with the Peoples of Latin America) | BC-Central America Student Alliance (BC CASA) | Place + Space Collective, SFU | Mining Justice Action Committee (Victoria) | Gabriela BC (Women’s Collective) | Rights Action | Social Justice Centre – UBC | Stop the Institute
Every year in May, BC Mining Month announces a smattering of galas, charity pie throws, networking events and fancy luncheons. All of this is to celebrate an industry that too often destroys communities, exploits workers, and devastates ecosystems while funneling profits into tax havens.
The pinnacle of this celebration is the BC Mining Person of the Year Award which recognizes “an outstanding individual who has shown leadership in advancing and promoting the mining industry. Illustrious past winners include Pierre Lebel of Imperial Metals (whose Mount Polley Mine spilled an estimated 25 billion litres of mining waste into Quesnel Lake), and John McManus of Taseko Mines (which has repeatedly pushed to build their New Prosperity Mine, despite firm opposition from the Tsilhqot’in Nation).
No, we are not making this stuff up.
Mining Justice Alliance is an all-volunteer, grassroots collective on unceded Coast Salish Territories that organizes with communities—on turtle island and across the globe—affected by Canadian mining corporations. We organize actions that raise awareness around endemic injustices within Canada’s state-supported mining industry. Our organizing work prioritizes the perspectives and social-environmental justice concerns expressed by directly-affected communities: most of the actions and events we organize respond to direct requests made by communities facing Canadian mining projects and their allies.
We organize from where we live and work, on unceded traditional territories of the Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), Stó:lō (Stolo), səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) peoples.