FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014
Press release: Santa Claus and Carolers Deliver Verdict and Lumps of Coal to Toronto-Based Mining Companies Declared Guilty of Human Rights Abuses in International Tribunal
Huron-Wendat, Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee territory (Toronto, Canada) – On Wednesday, December 10, carollers dressed in Santa suits walked through the financial district singing altered Christmas songs as they delivered a guilty verdict and lumps of coal to Toronto-based mining companies GoldCorp, Barrick Gold and Excellon Resources. The date marked both the release of results from an international tribunal, which heard cases on violations committed by Canadian mining companies, as well as International Human Rights Day. Simultaneous verdict deliveries took place in Vancouver, Ottawa, and Montreal.
Last May in Montreal the Permanent People’s Tribunal (PPT) considered thirteen accusations against the Canadian state and mining companies for human rights abuses committed in Latin America, where Canadian companies hold a 32% share of all minerals exploration. The court heard testimony from members of mining-impacted communities and examined the political, diplomatic, economic, and financial complicity of the Canadian state. Sergio Campusano, president of the Diaguita de los Huascoaltinos Indigenous community in Chile, was one of the Tribunal’s witnesses. He testified to the damage Barrick Gold has done to the vital glaciers on Diaguita ancestral lands, and how the company has denied community rights to free, prior and informed consent. Others spoke of the contamination left by Goldcorp in Honduras, where acid mine drainage polluted waterways with lead, arsenic and cyanide, the same water community members consume. Nearly 50% of the community has high levels of lead in their blood.
“This Christmas season, we wanted to come together and deliver the verdict and a lump of coal to our local companies Goldcorp, Barrick Gold, and Excellon Resources, while singing carols that send the message that we won’t let them get away with their bad behavior any more. Enough is enough, we have the evidence and it’s time for these companies to face the music,” said Jennifer Mills, activist and Phd Candidate in Environmental Studies at York University.
To the tune of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” the red-suited carollers sang, “We see you when you’re profiting, from land theft, murder, and rape. We know if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!” They left stockings full of coal along with the printed verdict at the offices of Barrick, Goldcorp, and Excellon, the three Toronto-based companies named in the tribunal’s report.
The carollers were brought together by the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network (MISN), a Toronto-based group of activists who work to hold Canadian mining companies accountable. “Canadian mining companies comprise over 75% of mining businesses worldwide and must be challenged where they are based, right here in Toronto” Ava Lightbody of MISN argues, “This is not just a Latin American problem.”
The delivery of this verdict comes in a context of increased focus on the harmful impacts of Canadian mining projects within Canada and globally. Two sets of precedent-setting lawsuits are proceeding in Canadian courts, alleging responsibility on the part of Canadian companies Hudbay Minerals and Tahoe Resources for violent acts committed in Guatemalan communities near their respective mining projects. Closer to home, just a few months ago a tailings pond belonging to Canadian mining company Imperial Metals' Mount Polley mine breached, spilling tonnes of toxic liquid into an interconnected group of waterways.The spill has been called one of the biggest environmental disasters in modern Canadian history and is expected to have catastrophic effects on environmental and human health for decades.
While Canadian mining companies violate human rights in Canada and around the world, the Canadian government refuses to be held accountable, or to hold these companies accountable. A recent MiningWatch report states that, “The Government of Canada released its revised Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy for extractive companies operating overseas, finally recognising its power to withdraw the substantial support that it provides such companies in order to make them accountable, but declining to apply that power in any meaningful way.” It is in this context of impunity, both at home and abroad, that carollers took to the street demanding justice.
MISN is a Toronto-based volunteer group that works closely with communities impacted by extractive industries in order to support their self-determination, educate the Canadian public, and bring companies to justice.
Media contact: Merle Davis, Mining Injustice Solidarity Network, 647-857-7462, firstname.lastname@example.org
High-resolution photos available upon request.
More information: www.mininginjustice.org; www.tppcanada.org