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225 Attend Film on Opposition to Canadian Mining Company

On November 26th in Toronto, 225 people attended a screening of Huicholes: The Last Peyote Guardians ​hosted by the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network (MISN). Huicholes tells the story of the Wixárika people and their struggle against the Mexican government and a Canadian mining company to preserve the sacred territory of Wirikuta. The screening was part of a North American tour to raise awareness and funds for the ongoing struggle against Vancouver-based Fist Majestic Silver, which purchased underground mineral rights in the town of Real de Catorce in 2009. The proceeds from the screening went directly to the impacted communities.

The film’s director, Hernán Vilchez, and two community members, Enrique Ramirez and Jose Luis Ramirez, are touring with the film. They opened the screening with a prayer and answered audience questions about their struggle and the support that communities in Canada can offer. The evening was also opened by the Aztec Dance Group of Toronto and drummers from Six Nations. 

As Brent Patterson wrote in a blog about the film, the Wixarika indigenous nation opposes the First Majestic SIlver mine because: 

  • of the sacredness of the land;

  • Indigenous peoples have the right to be consulted about any project that affect their territory, yet no consultations have taken place;

  • the mining concessions granted to the company by the Ministry of Economy violate the Hauxa Manaka Accord signed in 2008 by president Felipe Calderon to protect the sacred sites of the Huichol people;

  • the management plan of the Natural Protected Area of Wirikuta explicitly prohibits mining;

  • the mining claim overlaps the only aquifer in the Wirikuta, an underground water source that provides water to 16 villages and supports the ecosystem of the desert;

  • the vast amount of water needed by the mine, and the pollution to water that can result from mining activities;

  • the mining claim threatens the Cerro Quemado mountain, an important site for the Huichol ceremonial migration.

The Council of Canadians and The Blue Planet Project have been supporting their struggle. In May 2011, we helped cover the travel costs of Wixarika delegate Jesus Lara Chivarra to Vancouver to intervene at the First Majestic Silver’s annual shareholders meeting. In November 2011 and February 2012, Mexico City-based Blue Planet Project organizer Claudia Campero highlighted the struggle to protect the Wirikuta in the campaign blogs here and here. In May 2012, Campero participated in Wirikuta Fest, a cultural event of 60,000 people in Mexico City calling for the protection of the Wirikuta from First Majestic Silver’s mining plans. In June 2012, Chivarra was also a keynote speaker at our Shout Out Against Mining Injustice public forum with more than 400 people in attendance. In addition to the Friday night keynote address, he participated in the Saturday workshops and the Sunday strategy session.  And in November 2012, Blue Planet Project founder Maude Barlow travelled by horseback to the sacred land of the Wirikuta. Her op-ed A plan to save the Place Where the Sun Was Born can be read in English here and in Spanish in La Jornada.


The crowd observed a moment of silence for the 5th anniversary of the murder of anti-mining activist Mariano Abarca Roblero, killed in Chiapas for resisting Calgary-based Blackfire Exploration Ltd. The Council of Canadians signed an open letter on the anniversary of his death, calling “on both Mexican and Canadian authorities to ensure that justice is served.” For further background, please see this blog by Brent Patterson.


A screening of Huicholes was also held November 27th at York University and the tour continues in British Columbia with screenings in Vancouver. 

A trailer for the film can be seen here and its Facebook page is here. More information on MISN can be found here