May is Mining Justice Month in Canada
Did you know that in 1995, Canada proclaimed that the second Monday of every May would kick off a national Mining Week in Canada? Industry associations, like the Mining Association of British Columbia, hold dozens of events to promote mining investment in Canada and abroad.
But for corporate accountability activists, May is also Mining Justice Month.
Amnesty activists will be well-aware that every May Amnesty joins more than 30 partner organizations from the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability (CNCA) and grassroots groups across Canada to take action in solidarity with human rights defenders and communities harmed by Canadian oil, gas and mining operations abroad and in Canada.
This May, we call on you to speak out in defense of human rights for water defenders in Canada, earth defenders in Latin America, and for Canadian corporate accountability rules that truly protect human rights.
Open for Justice:
Last Mining Justice month, we were hopeful that the newly announced Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE) would soon roll up his or her sleeves and get to work investigating the many troubling abuse allegations against overseas Canadian extractive and garment industry operations. We called on you to ask the Prime Minister to follow through on commitments to grant the CORE the necessary powers to do the job right – and you did so in great numbers. Thank you!
But the government dragged its heels for the next 15 months.
On April 8, 2019 it announced the appointment of lawyer Sheri Meyerhoffer. But any excitement about the post dissipated when it became clear that the government had not given her a mandate or the powers to independently investigate complaints.
Over the next few weeks, Amnesty is calling on everyone concerned about corporate accountability and the grave dangers facing earth and water defenders for speaking out against the harms caused by Canadian extractives industries to join us in taking action.
Here are some of the ways you can get involved to make sure Canada is Open for Justice:
- Sign the online petition between now and May 26 calling on Minister Carr to grant the CORE the powers needed to ensure Canada’s Ombudsperson is truly effective
- Call the Minister: if you haven’t already, please join our phone action (its painless and very effective!)
- Make some noise on Twitter: if you tweet, follow us and then please send a message that the #ombudsperson needs the #power2compel and that #Canada must be #open4justice and include the handles @open4justice, @JustinTrudeau, @jimcarr_wpg, and @AICanadaBHR
- Join a public event: Dress in your best costume and join the Mining Resisters of the Year and Counter-Gala in Vancouver on May 1 or the Emergency Mass Action for Mining Justice in Toronto on May 4 or host your own. Be sure to tell us about it and send photos: firstname.lastname@example.org
Justice for Water Defenders in Canada:
Nearly 5 years has passed since the Mount Polley copper mine tailings disaster in British Columbia. 25 million cubic meters of mine waste and tailings pond water ended up in pristine Quesnel Lake. People are still afraid to swim, eat or drink water from the lake. But out of economic necessity, some people have no choice but to drink the water or eat fish caught there.
Despite these serious health and human rights concerns, despite the disproportionate impact in Indigenous peoples in the region who rely on fish from Quesnel Lake and surrounding rivers, and despite calls for justice and accountability from two United Nations bodies, Canada has failed to fine, sanction or hold anyone criminally responsible. And this is a shame, because it denies residents and Indigenous peoples who were harmed their human right to remedy and reparations.
BC’s Conservation Officer Service, the RCMP, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada have until August 4, 2019 to lay criminal charges for violations of the federal Fisheries Act that led to the disaster. Meanwhile, the company continues to discharge filtered mine waste into Quesnel Lake via large discharge pipes. It does not use best available technologies or practices to treat waste water coming out of its processing plant. Residents are furious and deeply concerned.
Please join Amnesty in speaking out in support of residents and Indigenous peoples harmed by the Mount Polley mine disaster in their quest for justice and accountability. Five years is too long to wait!
Here are some of the activities you can join during May Mining Justice month:
- Call the Ministers for Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Crown-Indigenous Relations: demand justice and accountability for the disaster. Our easy how-to guide provides you with a direct link to the Ministers’ phone lines, a script and talking points. Please add your voice to the hundreds of people who have already called!
- Sign the online petition: calling on the Prime Minister to ensure justice for Mount Polley.
- Prefer to write a letter? Put pen to paper, fingers to keys, and let the Prime Minister and BC Premier know that you want justice for Mount Polley and for BC’s mining laws to change.
- Send a wild salmon solidarity message: cut out and colour a message of support
- Read up: visit our most recent blog and webpage to learn more.
Protecting Earth Defenders in Latin America:
Across Latin America, people who seek to protect land, water and forests face an unprecedented increase in attacks and killings. It’s the most dangerous region in the world to defend environmental human rights.
The aim of these attacks is to paralyze peaceful struggles of communities exercising their right to speak out about irresponsible logging, mining and dam projects that threaten the environment on which they depend.
It is vital that Canada puts in place effective safeguards to ensure the trade and investment our government promotes in Latin America does not lead to conflict and violence against earth defenders.
- Learn more: visit our new campaign page for information about courageous earth defenders in Honduras, Mexico, Guatemala, and Colombia
- Sign the online petition: Call on Canada to protect environmental human rights defenders in Latin America.
As you can see, there are many ways you can get involved in Amnesty’s campaigns to support environmental human rights defenders and demand Canada protects their rights.
Challenge yourself, your family and friends to take 2 actions per week from the list above.
By the end of Mining Justice Month, you will have taken 8 actions in support of greater corporate accountability in Canada. Thank you! You are a human rights champion!