Indigenous Resistance to the Mining Industry
I just put together this video for a presentation at OCIC’s AGM. This is a compilation of the various projects I have been working on for the past six years. Featuring the voices and experiences of over a dozen affected Indigenous communities, from five continents, who are in the process of resisting Canadian mining projects.
Remember the Land
for Kairos Canada
We Love Our Land
Neskantaga First Nation
Someone Else’s Treasure
Kanawayandan D’aaki – Protecting Our Land
Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation
Someone Else’s Treasure
San Miguel Ixtahuacan
San Marcos, Guatemala
Redd Road: Indigenous Resistance to False Solutions
for the Indigenous Environmental Network at the UN Climate Change Conference
I haven’t been doing a very good job at keeping this blog updated. I have several projects on the go right now, so I thought it would be a good idea to put together a review of everything I have been working on for the past few months. I am working on editing these projects into multimedia pieces, and it might be a little while before some of them are finished. But this will give you an idea of what to look out for in the coming months.
COP16 – Mexico
December 2010, I was working with the Indigenous Environmental Network as part of their media team at the United Nations Climate Summit in Cancun Mexico. So the beginning of 2011 was spent editing photos and video from the conference, and protests surrounding the conference.
Here is a selection of some of my photos from COP16:
Here is the video I put together covering the COP16, featuring members of the Indigenous Environmental Network delegation explaining why they came:
Mining Injustice Solidarity in Toronto
In the spring of 2011 I was involved in two international mining conferences in Toronto. The Mining Injustice Conference: Confronting Corporate Impunity, was organized by the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network and brought together front-line activists from impacted communities to share their experiences regarding the impacts of Canadian mining around the world.
The Ecumenical Conference on Mining brought together church leaders from around the world to discuss the impacts of Canadian mining on their communities. I am currently working on a video with KAIROS, addressing some of the topics discussed at the Ecumenical Conference on Mining, the video will be hopefully be released within the next month.
Here is aseries of large posters I made for both of these conferences:
Video of human rights protests outside Barrick Gold AGM:
South March Highlands
During the summer of 2011, I was invited to work on a project with Daniel Amikwabe Bernard, of the Algonquin Amikwabe Beaver Nation. Daniel has devoted his life to saving the South March Highlands in Ottawa from further desecration and development. The South March Highlands are sacred to the Algonquin people, but large parts of this urban forest is being torn down to make way for urban sprawl and housing developments. I am working on a short film about this forest and it’s historical and spiritual significance to the Algonquin people – featuring interviews with the late Grandfather William Commanda, Bob Lovelace, Paula Sherman, Mireille Lapointe, Nicole Lovelace, Robert Bateman, and Albert Dumont. I’m still in the early stages of editing this piece, but hope to have this one ready for spring 2012.
Here is a small selection of some of the photos from this project:
Oxfam Trailwalker 2011
Oxfam Trailwalker has evolved from a gruelling military exercise into a truly global movement that effects real change in the lives of millions of people living in abject poverty. It’s more than just a fitness challenge, Oxfam Trailwalker is a commitment to change the world, one step at a time. Teams of four commit to not only raising funds, but also hiking a gruelling 100km in 48 hours. The money raised from this fundraising event helps support Oxfam Canada’s initiatives all over the world. Specifically, Oxfam Canada is dedicated to supporting long-term development, advocacy, and emergency programs in 28 countries, and also provides emergency support during humanitarian crises.
“The climate has changed. There is no water here, nothing. Our land is dying and so are we” Ngorbob elders.
Ngorbob is a small Masai village near Arusha, Tanzania. Ngorbob has been severely hit by drought in recent months. They have not seen rain for over a year, and as a result their farmlands and livestock are dying. Many of the residents of Ngorbob have already been forced to leave their ancestral home in search of water and work.
I am still working on editing this photoessay which will soon be published in Tanzania by the Norwegian Church Aid.
Mining In Tanzania
While I was in Tanzania I had the chance to continue the work I had started in 2008. I’m working now on updating the photoessay from 2008, which will hopefully be online in a couple of weeks, and will also be putting together a video on this. Here is a selection of some new images on mining in Tanzania:
Village Community Banking
“My life and family has changed, but the whole community has benefitted too because if you educate a woman – one lady – you are educating the whole community.” – Hadija, VICOBA member in Lushoto, Tanzania.
In Tanzania, Village Community Banking (VICOBA) provides a structure through which communities are able to organize themselves, provide skill-sharing, and capacity building in an effort to combat poverty. Inspired by Bangladesh’s Grameen Bank, the idea behind VICOBA is the belief that poor people have the skills, capabilities and abilities to improve their own economic development and social welfare.
In a field that is increasingly becoming dominated by corporate models of development, these stories provide examples of alternative models that are based on the dignity and ingenuity of the people. These women-led initiatives empower communities to find local solutions to their own local problems. These often-untold stories of community role models transforming their own communities are at the heart of a stronger, more inclusive, healthier and more socially just model of international development.
This is another work in progress for me, putting together a photoessay which will be published in Tanzania by the Norwegian Church Aid, as well as producing a short film about VICOBA.
Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) has governed and cared for their Indigenous homeland, Kitchenuhmaykoosib Aaki, since time before memory. In 2008, KI’s Chief and five community leaders were jailed for refusing to allow mining exploration which threatened KI’s water supply. The remote First Nation community succeeded in fighting off mining exploration by Platinex Inc. But now other companies are staking claims within KI territory. KI’s pristine waters, their sacred landscape, and the lake trout they rely upon are at risk. KI has a vision for the future of their lands and environment that benefits all life.
Here is a short film I made in collaboration with KI’s Lands & Environment Unit, Kanawayandan D’aaki: Protecting Our Land
Here is a selection of some of my photos from KI, featuring an aerial view of their expansive Indigenous homeland, Kitchenuhmaykoosib Aaki.
So that wraps up what I have been working on for the past few months. Most of these projects are still not completed yet, so I am working on multiple projects simultaneously which is why I’m taking so long with these. In the meantime I also have to spend some time updating this website. Apologies to those of you waiting patiently for these videos/photoessays, I’m getting there…
This is a slideshow I made in 2004 when I was working with GlobalAware Independent Media.
Af-flu-ence (af’looens) noun – abundance of money, and other material goods; wealth: to live in affluence.
Its deadly and mind-numbing effects are devastating communities world wide.
It is the driving force behind many of today’s environmental problems.
It places a heavy burden on our physical and mental health.
And is a direct cause of suffering for millions around the world.
The gap between the world’s rich and poor has never been wider.
Yet it is neither chance nor bad luck that keeps people trapped in bitter, unrelenting affluence.
There are human factors, like a colonial history that suffocates any chance of healing, an unjust global trade system, and inadequate awareness of sustainability.
The consequences of Affluence have long been kept in the dark.
Consume less. Be sustainable. Challenge desire.
High in the mountains of the Philippine island of Mindoro, members of the Alangan tribe live in the village of Kisluyan, on the same land their ancestors have lived on for generations.
Kisluyan is one of 26 indigenous villages that face the threat of displacement by the Mindoro Nickel Project, a proposed open pit nickel mine on their ancestral land.
The Alangan are one of eight indigenous tribes in Mindoro, known collectively as the Mangyan. The Mangyan once occupied the whole island. As more and more settlers began moving to the island, the Mangyan were gradually pushed off the more fertile areas higher and higher into the mountains. Now, with the proposed mine threatening to push them off their mountain, they are left with nowhere to go.
For the Alangan, their land is the very foundation of their identity. Generation after generation, the Mangyan have been taught to care for the land; “we take care of the land, and the land will take care of us.” Many of them believe that disaster will befall them if their sacred lands are desecrated by the proposed nickel mine.
April 7, 2010, Toronto – On World Health Day, members of Grassy Narrows First Nation lead a march of over 250 people to the seat of the Provincial Government at Queen’s Park. The Grassy Narrows People have travelled 1,800 km to deliver their demands for restitution for mercury poisoning whose health effects in the community are worse now than when Ontario first banned fishing in their river 40 years ago, according to a newly translated study by Japanese mercury expert Dr. Harada. The Provincial government has compounded the impacts of mercury on the community’s health, culture, and economy by permitting decades of unwanted clear-cut logging, and mining activity on their territory.
More info: freegrassy.org
April 1st, 2010, Rainforest Action Network Toronto naming Royal Bank of Canada the Fossil Fool of the Year 2010, for being the leading financier of the Tar Sands oil projects.
Music: Kevin MacLeod
Someone Else’s Treasure is an ongoing multimedia project which brings to light some of the experiences of indigenous communities around the world that have been impacted by the global mining industry – including communities in the Philippines, Tanzania, Papua New Guinea, Australia, Chile, Canada, and Guatemala.
This multimedia piece focuses on communities in San Marcos, Guatemala, living next to the Canadian-owned Marlin Mine. The first two songs are by Grupo Kotzic, who are from San Marcos, singing about the peoples’ resistance to the mine. The third song is a live recording from inside the Church of San Miguel Ixtahuacan, San Marcos, where community members were singing a song they wrote about their experiences with the mine.
In an effort to better understand the true cost of an industry that shapes the world around all of us, the focus of Someone Else’s Treasure is on the externalized – the men, women, and children, that have been left out of the equations and are therefore forced to pay the price for someone else’s treasure.
Now available in Spanish: La Riqueza de Otros – Guatemala
Read the photo essay for more information:
The sights and sounds from the streets of Copenhagen during the COP15 Climate Conference. As broad frustration grew with the direction of the COP15 negotiations, international networks of people’s movements, civil society groups, indigenous peoples organizations and grassroots activists united to expose the COP process as undemocratic, unjust, and inadequate to deal with the scale of the problem.
More from the streets of Copenhagen here
Tar Sands protest outside Canadian Embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark, during the COP15 Climate Conference.
The protest was led by the Indigenous Environmental Network.
Speakers: Mother & daughter Susan and Eriel Deranger from the Athabasca Chipewan First Nation, just downriver from the Tar Sands oil projects in Alberta, Canada.
Indigenous leaders from Chile, Papua New Guinea, and Australia, traveled great distances to speak at the annual shareholders’ meeting of Barrick Gold — the world’s largest gold mining corporation — and voice their complaints about Barrick’s operations on their ancestral lands.
Complaints include the killing, rape, and arbitrary detention of villagers in Papua New Guinea, the destruction of spiritual sites in Australia, and the theft of indigenous lands in Chile.
Affected communities are calling on all Canadians to reject the harms done by Canadian mining companies and become active in pressuring Canadian companies to respect international human rights and environmental standards.
Sergio Campusano is the President of the Diaguita Huascoaltinos Indigenous and Agricultural Community. Since he assumed the role of president, Sergio has been fighting against the greed of the mining corporations and the local agriculture companies in order to mantain the rights of his people.
Native to the rocky highlands of Papua New Guinea (PNG), Jethro Tulin is a popular organiser and founder of the Akali Tange Association (ATA), a human rights organization documenting abuses at the Porgera mine, owned by Torontos Barrick Gold.
Neville “Chappy” Williams, Wiradjuri elder and spokesperson for Mooka and Kalara United Families, the traditional owners of the Lake Cowal area in NSW Australia.
I’ve been struggling to try and figure out how to get some of my multimedia slideshows online. Here’s one test using YouTube. This was just a quick test slideshow that I slapped together this morning to try and test this out. If it all comes out alright then hopefully I’ll be able to post more later.