About 150 protesters attended the Barrick Gold annual general shareholders meeting to denounce the human rights abuses and environmental destruction caused by the world’s largest gold mining company. There were a number of speakers from communities impacted by Barrick’s mining operations in Colombia, Tanzania, and Argentina.
Maria Pia, an Argentinian activist, shared the story of how her community successfully kicked Barrick out. The community blockaded roads to keep company workers from accessing the site for three days until someone from Barrick Gold agreed to speak with them. “We told them they did not have the social license to continue operating,” Maria told the crowd. “They would create too much social conflict.”
The company eventually left the community, but residents continued their blockade for a year so that the company would not return.” Maria’s community continues to protect their land as they are still being threatened by Canadian Mining companies. She ended by saying “It is the same thing they they are doing here in Canada. That is why we need to continue our struggle in the north and the south.”
Others spoke about the mass displacement and environmental destruction caused by Barrick Gold, and the callout for the rally states:
In countries like Australia, Chile, Papua New Guinea and Tanzania, Barrick takes advantage of inadequate and poorly enforced regulatory controls to rob indigenous people of their lands, destroy sensitive ecosystems and agricultural land, support brutal police and security operations, and sue anyone who tries to report on it… Now, Barrick uses its influence with government to direct millions of international aid dollars to fund projects next to their mines.
The crowd chanted “Shame on you, Barrick Gold. Human rights cannot be sold.”
Maria and other speakers from the rally will also be attending the annual Mining Injustice conference in Toronto. The conference is organized by the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network and will have panels on how the mining industry impacts labour, water, and indigenous sovereignty. In other sessions, panelists will be speaking about the criminalization of resistance, mining resistance at home and abroad, free trade and mining, mining in law and the legal system, and Bill C-323. For a full schedule, check out the conference website.
Students from the Toronto Student School also attended the AGM, unanimously voting to have the day off so that students could attend the protest. Students came with banners and placards and issued a media statement denouncing Barrick Gold’s human rights abuses.
Council of Canadians continues to support struggles against mining operations and will be hosting Shout Out Against Mining Injustice, a mining conference in Vancouver in early June.