Canadian Mining Convention Crashed-Vigil held for those killed for opposing mining companies

Date of publication: 
11 March 2010

On March 9th, 25 protesters held a vigil for community leaders in Latin America killed by mining companies, across the street from one of the largest mining conferences in the world, the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) convention. They held up photos of several Central American activist who were killed for their role in opposing Canadian mining companies. At the End of the vigil they marched through the convention centre chanting anti-mining slogans.

“We are gathered here to try to speak for the people who don’t have a voice inside this convention” said Rosa Noyola, from the Latin American Solidarity Network. She then proceed to name community leaders who had been killed for opposing mining projects, and named the companies she felt were responsible for their deaths. “we are extremely worried for the lives of the leaders and communities that are victims of the policy of complicity and demand an investigation into these murders and a stop to these atrocities.”

Large photos of murdered community leaders from El Salvador, Mexico and Guatemala were held up by the activists. During speeches they spoke out against Canadian mining companies including Blackfire, Pacific Rim, and Barrick Gold.

“Over 70% of mining companies are based out of Canada. This indicates that our government has made Canada a place of impunity as they are unwilling to hold these companies accountable for their actions.” said Susan Caxaj, a member of Community Solidarity Response Toronto, the group that organized the event.

“Today, Gold Corp is scheduled to give a talk on ensuring free prior and informed consent for local communities. What kind of world do we live in where a company like Gold Corp provides counsel to other mining companies on how to protect the human rights of local communities? We are talking about a company who has repeatedly shown that they have little respect for local communities’ human rights – particularly, their right to say no.”

The PDAC convention was held in the Metro Toronto Convention Center, the same venue that will hold the G20 summit next June. The convention had thousands of attendees. Those who saw the vigil mostly look baffled. Their opinions of it were mixed. “Its horrible when anyone is killed, mining has a bad repor with people around the world” said one. Another was less supportive “I don’t think has killed half as many people as the Iraq war”

One member of the vigil had been holding up signs across from the convention center since the convention began on Friday March 5th. He said that on Sunday March 7th he was “Joined by 40 flag-waving members of USW Local 6500, Sudbury, on strike against Vale Inco.”

Vigil held on the 9th lasted for one and a half hours. When it was over, most of the participants marched into the convention center chanting “Canadian Mining Blood on Your Hands!” When they realized that they were not being stopped by security they rode up three flights of escalators and made their way from the South Building of the convention center on Bremner St. to the North Building on Front St. Passing several hundred conference attendees as they marched. After reaching Front Street the small but vocal group dispersed.