Two activists promoting awareness about Canada’s international mining practices and teaching communities how to make informed decisions about them stopped by Prince Albert Wednesday night.
Sakura Saunders and Darius Mirshahi are touring across western Canada with planned stops in Beauval and Ile La Crosse and onto British Columbia where they will participate in the community’s efforts to voice their opposition to various industrial projects.
Here in Prince Albert they screened the documentary Under Rich Earth. It followed the efforts of a remote Ecuadorian community resisting the efforts of the now-defunct Canadian mining company Ascendant Copper.
The community faced encroachment on their lands from armed security forces and relentless pressure from the corporation, but succeeded through peaceful resistance. Through this they saw the company leave, be delisted from TSX, and folding altogether.
Saunders said it was important to understand that Canada is the home of about 75 per cent of the world’s mining companies, and their actions abroad were sometimes appalling, violent, and forceful—something Canadians needed to recognize and fight against.
She said it was possible for mining companies to act ethically while still producing products consumers needed, but awareness was what would lead the change.
“A lot of these abuses don’t have to happen and the mines can still exist,” she said. “At the same time one of the things I fight for the hardest is for the recognition of free, prior, informed consent—that is, the right for a community to say no to mining.”
As well, she said a big change would come from change in our consumption products and recognizing the difference between true need and consumer desire.
“It’s a big challenge for society to not confuse our comfort with necessity, and challenge ourselves and bring more justice to these mining industries,” she said. “And where there are mines, pay these communities more and these miners more.”
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