June 13-15, 2022 the annual PDAC Convention took place, as it does each year, in Toronto, Canada. Beginning in 1932, this was the 90th Anniversary of the Convention.
The number of mining companies based in Canada has been growing over the years, and Pax Christi Toronto, in collaboration with Pax Christi International, has been monitoring the practices of these mining companies around the world, particularly in Latin America. Along with Canada’s Development and Peace, the official international development organization of the Catholic Church In Canada, Pax Christi Toronto, represented by Sr. Mary-Ellen Francoeur, was present at a demonstration outside the venue of the PDAC Convention on June 13, 2022.
PDAC stands for Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada. The website for the Convention states that this is “The world’s premier mineral exploration and mining convention…the leading convention for people, governments, companies and organizations connected to mineral exploration”. It was welcoming over 17,000 attendees.
At the demonstration, we heard from Peruvian people advocating for justice in their communities, deeply impacted by the unethical mining practices of Canadian mines. Mining activities severely damage their land and water, leading to hardship, illness, and even death, particularly among the women and children.
The Bishops of Peru have spoken out loudly against these abuses. Their voices are expressed in an article written by the Catholic Register, June 19, 2022 edition.
In this article, Chuquibamba Bishop Jorge Izaguirre, President of the Peruvian Bishops’ Commission on Social Action is quoted from a letter he wrote on June 10, 2022 where he “demands that Canadian miners and the Canadian government come up with a system that prevents reckless investment that steamrolls over Indigenous and peasant communities.” Bishop Izaguirre is further quoted in saying “We consider it essential that countries move from voluntary compliance regimes towards adopting the Un Human Rights Council’s proposed legally binding instrument on transnational corporations and human rights.” With Development and Peace, Pax Christi Toronto has long been advocating for Canadian legislation which would demand due diligence with teeth, and put in place an ombudsman position with power to monitor Canadian mining activities, and to bring to court those who are reported to be using unjust, unethical practices and held responsible.
Along with the southern activists representing South America, the demonstration also heard from a number of Canadian Indigenous activists from various parts of Canada speaking to the effects of mining, abuse and contamination of land and water. They feel their human rights are not being respected by the Canadian government. Pax Christi
Toronto stands in solidarity with all of these peoples, and will continue to use strong advocacy calling for just mining practices, restored land and clean water in Indigenous communities.