Canada & Murder of Environmentalists under Liberal and Conservative Governments

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A study by York University's Osgood Law School professor Shin Imai documents how Canadian mining companies used violence that killed 44 people in Latin America, part of a pattern in which these firms have not been held to account. However that may be changing with Supreme Court of Canada allowing a B.C. case to proceed against Canadian mining firm Nevsun Resources involving allegations of slavery at an Eritrean mine. 

Nevsun suffers Eritrea legal setback

The Supreme Court of Canada has given Eritrean refugees the green light to proceed with claims against Nevsun Resources regarding alleged human rights abuses at its Bisha mine in Eritrea

Most of us don't associate Canadian businesses with assault and murder. But between 2000 and 2015, 44 people died as a result of violence surrounding Canadian-owned mines in Latin America. The stories behind those killings, some of which are documented in a 2016 study by Shin Imai, a professor at York University's Osgoode Hall Law School, are harrowing.

According to his report, mine protesters in Guatemala have reportedly been beaten, arrested, kidnapped and shot. Women living in communities surrounding the mines have been raped. In 2009, a political activist who opposed a Canadian mine in El Salvador was found dead in a well, his fingernails removed.

These atrocities rarely make headlines in Canada. The victims are poor and live in faraway developing countries. ...

But after decades of brutality, complacency can set in. The problems seem intractable and become part of the cost of doing business.

There is cause for hope. There have recently been some major developments that could result in real change.

One is that countries like Guatemala and Chile are now doing more to protect Indigenous peoples and their land. In 2017, Guatemala's supreme court surprised many by suspending operations at Escobal, a massive silver mine built by Vancouver-based Tahoe Resources, ruling that the government did not adequately consult locals before approving the mine. Tahoe's share price plummeted by 33% in one day, and before long, the company became a takeover target for Vancouver-based Pan American Silver.

Investors were similarly shocked when Chile's environmental regulator ruled that Barrick Gold had to shutter the Chilean portion of its Pascua-Lama mine, which straddles the border between Chile and Argentina, partly because of problems with its water management system. The mine was once one of Barrick's most promising projects, and the shutdown forced the company to write down almost half a billion dollars.

More important, for the first time ever, Indigenous peoples are now suing Canadian mining companies through Canadian courts, rather than relying on the local justice system. Cases against Tahoe, Toronto-based Hudbay Minerals and Vancouver-based Nevsun Resources (which was recently acquired) are now being heard in Toronto and Vancouver. If any of those companies lose, the ramifications will be huge. It will essentially mean that Canadian operations in developing countries can be held to the same human rights standard we have here at home, rather than the weaker standard found in many Latin American, South American and African countries.

That will be hard on some mining companies. Having to meet the Canadian standard will put them at a competitive disadvantage to mining companies based in China or Russia, where the injured are unlikely to have such recourse. But there could be benefits as well. As Canada gets a reputation for operating safe, sustainable mines around the world, we may become the preferred source of minerals for more progressive manufacturers and the preferred partner for more progressive investment funds.

The world is changing. Indigenous land claims, environmental standards and protection for human rights will continue to grow stronger in Canada and overseas. Some mining companies will ignore the shift and continue to conduct business as usual. But that approach is starting to get expensive. Just ask Tahoe.


Pacific Rim Mining is a Vancouver-based multinational that has been involved in the murder of community members in El Salvador. The Canadian base Pacific Rim was later taken over by Australian mining firm Oceana Gold.  Despite being involved in the murder of five community members opposed to the project, "Pacific Rim originally sued El Salvador for $300 million under the Central American Free Trade Agreement, but the case was dismissed because Canada, where Pacific Rim had been based before its acquisition by OceanaGold, is not a party to CAFTA."

 Adalberto.H.Vega via Flickr.

The shining blue waters of Lago Suchitlan, Suchitoto, El Salvador. Photo: Adalberto.H.Vega via Flickr.

OceanaGold demanded $300 million in compensation from impoverished El Salvador after a mining permit was refused to safeguard a clean drinking water source that millions of people depend on, writes Pete Dolack. The sum does not even represent losses - but profits the company claims it would have made. (

Pacific Rim obtained a mining exploration license in the mid-2000s, but failed to meet the regulatory requirements to put the mine into operation. In 2009, through a subsidiary, the company brought an investment dispute against El Salvador for “loss of potential profits.” 

From 2009-2011, five community members opposed to the project were murdered: 

 18 Jun 2009: The body of a leading activist who opposed the project was found in a well with all his fingernails removed and with other signs of torture. 

 7 Aug 2009: A male activist opposed to the mine was shot eight times in the back and survived. 

 20 Dec 2009: In a second attack, the activist mentioned above was shot and killed in his vehicle. The woman next to him in the vehicle was also killed. A 13-year-old girl was wounded. 

 26 Dec 2009: A female activist opposed to the project was assassinated. She was eight months pregnant at the time of her death. Her two-year-old son was injured during the shooting. 

 4 Jun 2011: A male community member opposed to the project was found murdered. 

There were also reports of several serious injuries, two failed assassination attempts and numerous death threats made against community members opposed to the mine.

In October 2016, the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) of the World Bank ruled against the company, indicating the suit was without merit and ordering it to pay $8 million in legal fees and costs to the govern-ment of El Salvador. The suit had reportedly cost the Salvadoran government approximately $12 million.



Vancouver-based Pan American Silver publicly apologized on July 30th 2019 for the shooting of peaceful protesters by Tahoe Resources, another Vancouver-based Canadian mining company that it had bought, but major issues remain. 

Guys July 2018 1

On July 30th, 2019, lawyers representing four Guatemalan members of the peaceful resistance to the Escobal mine announced the conclusion of the precedent-setting lawsuit against Tahoe Resources, recently acquired by Pan American Silver. The resolution includes a public apology by Pan American Silver in which the company takes responsibility for the shooting and the violation of the peaceful protestors’ human rights.

The settlement of the lawsuit, however, did not resolve any of the underlying issues of the Escobal mine. Shortly after Pan American Silver’s acquisition,affected communities demanded the company respond: Why would Pan American Silver, which has branded itself as a socially responsible company, buy a mine that clearly violated Xinka Indigenous rights in Guatemala from the start, and continues to violate their rights today? ...

On April 27, 2013, Tahoe Resources’ private security opened fire on peaceful protesters outside the Escobal silver mine, in the municipality of San Rafael Las Flores in southeastern Guatemala. The seven victims, allegedly shot at close range and while attempting to flee, filed a lawsuit in Canadian courts against the company for its role in the violence. Four men have continued as plaintiffs in the suit.

Alberto Rotondo, former military officer from Peru and head of security for Tahoe at the time of the incident, was previously under arrest in Guatemala awaiting trial for allegedly ordering security guards to fire at protesters and then covering up the evidence. In November 2015, he fled the country, since which time he was rearrested in his native Peru. Guatemala has initiated an extradition process in order to eventually continue with his prosecution.

But the lawsuits in Guatemala and Canada are only a small part of the bigger picture.

With its flagship operation in Guatemala, Tahoe Resources Inc. is a silver exploration and development company that lists on the Toronto and New York stock exchanges, with its head office in Reno, Nevada, USA. Since it arrived in the region, community leaders opposing the mine have faced repression, criminalization and violence. Despite the conflict – or perhaps because of it – Tahoe rushed to put the mine into operation before establishing reliable mineral reserves, bringing its underground mine into operation in January 2014.


MiningWatch Canada and the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP-Canada) have launched an electronic Parliamentary petition "in response to increasing extrajudicial attacks on civilians and human rights defenders in the Philippines since 2016."


Aggressive mining development in the Philippines: the Didipio Gold and Copper mine, owned by OceanaGold Corporation, has caused large human rights violations and environmental destruction (

The Philippines is now one of the two most dangerous countries for those who defend human and environmental rights according to Global Witness. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights’ issued a report on the Philippines this year that found serious human rights violations against human rights organizations, lawyers, political and judicial actors, journalists, trade unionists, and religious groups.

Canada is implicated in these rights abuses through the role Canadian mining companies play in the country. OceanaGold’s copper-gold project in the village of Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya, has long been accused of serious human rights and environmental abuses. In 2018, local indigenous people, who have peacefully opposed the mine for years, were falsely accused of sedition against the state, making them targets for extrajudicial killings, which have become so common in the Philippines. This year a large police force violently dispersed a peaceful and authorized blockade of a road to the mine, even though the mine has been without a permit to operate since June of 2019. 

Canada falls short in protecting Philippine human rights defenders both at the consular level in the Philippines and through its corporate accountability mechanisms at home. When some of the people who were falsely accused, and faced the threat of extrajudicial killing because of their opposition to OceanaGold, sought assistance from the Canadian embassy in Manila their requests for help were not addressed. At the same time we still do not have an Ombudsperson in Canada who has the investigatory powers to compel witnesses and documents that are necessary to address complaints against Canadian mining companies.

Since the election of Rodrigo Duterte, extrajudicial killings have increased in part due to a “War on Drugs” campaign implemented shortly after Duterte’s election, and counter-insurgency campaigns initiated after the government unilaterally ended peace talks with the National Democratic Front.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and Global Witness have recently raised concerns about the increase in extra-judicial killings, arbitrary arrests, and targeting of human rights, environmental and indigenous land defenders. Often these rights defenders are “red-tagged”3 and either arrested as political prisoners or killed because of their rights-based activism, which is cast as opposition to Duterte’s regime.

Given these circumstances, Canada should not be selling military equipment and providing defence cooperation to the Philippines. In 2019 Canada issued “Export Permit Denials of Military, Dual-Use, and Strategic Goods and Technology” in regard to four countries on the basis of “Canadian foreign and defence policy”; the Philippines should be added to this list. 

As socio-economic and other forms of aid have been used to support military actions resulting in human rights abuses, we call on Canada to halt these transfers to the Government of the Philippines and to instead channel these funds directly through non-governmental and humanitarian organizations.

We are also concerned about Canadian companies operating in countries where gross human rights violations are occurring, in particular Canadian mining companies operating in the Philippines. 

On April 6, 2020, some 100 Philippine National Police violently dispersed 29 primarily Indigenous Ifugao residents maintaining Didipio’s peaceful People’s Barricade, which was authorized by municipal and provincial governments on July 1, 2019. Rolando Pulido was beaten and arrested; others were wounded.

This event was triggered when Canadian corporation, OceanaGold, sought to have three fuel trucks run the blockade to maintain basic operations at the Didipio mine. The Didipio mine, situated in Nueva Vizcaya, started operations in 2013, but its permit expired in June 2019 and has not been renewed. With the support of municipal and provincial governments, local citizens and communities oppose the renewal of the permit due to mining-related human rights abuses, environmental degradation, and negative impacts on local livelihoods. 

Finally, we are concerned about the lack of effective support by Canadian consular staff for human rights and environmental defenders threatened because of their efforts to protect rights in the context of overseas operations of Canadian companies and the lack of effective accountability mechanisms in Canada to hold Canadian companies to account when they have caused or contributed to human rights abuses overseas. When Didipio villagers met with staff at the Canadian Embassy in Manila in 2018, after having been “red tagged” because of their opposition to human rights and environmental impacts caused by OceanaGold’s operations, they did not receive the protection they requested, in spite of the known threat they faced as red-tagged rights defenders.8 We call upon the House of Commons and Prime Minister to:

1. Make the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE) independent and empowered to compel evidence and witness testimony under oath. The government of Canada committed to grant the CORE these necessary investigatory powers, but subsequently reneged on this commitment.

2. Enact a human rights due diligence law that compels businesses to respect international human rights. Such a law would have both a preventative effect, as well as providing a cause of action for legal recourse in Canada for those who have been harmed by the actions of Canadian companies operating overseas;

3. Hold hearings on the human rights situation in the Philippines in the Parliamentary Human Rights Sub-committee during the current session of Parliament;

4. End Canadian support to the Government of the Philippines including socio-economic and financial programming, tactical, logistical and training support, military sales and defence cooperation;

5. Mandate Canadian consular personnel to protect human rights defenders. Whereas Canadian embassy staff are currently mandated to promote and protect the interests of Canadian companies operating overseas, they are not mandated to protect human rights defenders whose lives are threatened because of their criticism of the impacts on rights and the environment caused by these companies.


This month fifty organizations from around the world "including the British Columbia General Employees Union (BCGEU) and the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), wrote to the British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (BCI) regarding its investment in Vancouver-based mining company Equinox Gold."

The Los Filos mine went into operation in 2008. Since that time, the Ejido of Carrizalillo, which is half a kilometre from the massive heap leach pad at the mine, has documented a large increase in "health problems among the local population believed to be the result of constant exposure to arsenic and heavy metal-laden dust from the mine. These include prevalence of eye irritation, skin conditions, respiratory trouble, premature births, and birth deformations, among other illnesses. The community’s medical costs are only partially alleviated through their social-cooperation agreement. The community has also lost its water supplies, which have either been depleted or contaminated as a result of mine operations. Violence has also escalated from the arrival of organized crime fighting for control of the area during the last 9 years, leading to processes of extortion, the forced displacement of half the community in 2015 and the murder of an estimated 55 community members as of 2019." (

Equinox Gold: Racist and Discriminatory Company, outside Los Filos, Mexico (Source: Amapola)

Equinox Gold: Racist and Discriminatory Company, outside Los Filos, Mexico (Source: Amapola)

The organizations urge the fund to engage Equinox in dialogue over breaches in key provisions in its social cooperation agreement with the community of Carrizalillo in Guerrero, México, on whose land the company’s flagship Los Filos mine is principally located. Violations of the agreement led the community to act upon their rights in that same agreement and shut down the mine for over 60 days and counting. Key issues include the provision of clean water, medication, educational scholarships, jobs and contracts, as well as company management’s discriminatory and racist treatment of the community as it seeks to resolve these matters through dialogue. Notably, since the Los Filos mine went into operation in 2008, the communities’ sources of water have been dried up or contaminated with arsenic and other heavy metals. 

The letter highlights significant and serious concerns for community safety, health and economic well-being, stating: “We do not understand why, instead of engaging promptly and in good faith, the company decided to adopt a dilatory, discriminatory and abusive stance, including to criminalize the community’s actions.” On September 4, the company issued a public statement calling the community encampment an “illegal road blockade”, putting people at grave risk of legal persecution and violence, which is all too common at mine sites in Mexico.

The community strike now far surpasses the last shutdown at Los Filos in April 2014, which lasted 33 days after Goldcorp failed to reach a new land use agreement with the community. Equinox requires access to Carrizalillo’s lands in order to operate the Los Filos mine and has no rightful or legal way to operate without their agreement. 

The signatories to the letter, some of whom include contributors to the fund, echo the principle requests of the Ejido of Carrizalillo including: 

• Engage in respectful and serious talks over a new social-cooperation agreement that could mitigate harms on the community’s water, health, work and safety.

• To abstain from any further acts of criminalization, discrimination, racism and abuse of its economic and political influence.


You can call on Canadian banks to stop funding the violation of the  human and environmental rights of the people of Ejido of Carrizalillo in Mexico by Equinox Gold (see last post for more details) by clicking on the url below and sending a message to these banks. 

Community members look on Los Filos open pit mine in Guerrero, Mexico; Photo: Christian Leyva

Imagen @ M4

Translation: Corporate Accountability: increased sickness; loss of biodiversity; lies and plunder; use of cyanide

URGENT ACTION: Call on Canadian Banks to Stop Funding Conflict at the Los Filos mine

Equinox GoldMexico Human Rights

It has been more than 83 days since the Ejido of Carrizalillo shut down Equinox Gold’s Los Filos mine in Guerrero, Mexico after two months of failed attempts at dialogue to address racist and discriminatory treatment, as well as breaches of their social cooperation agreement. This is the longest-running strike since the mine started operating in 2007.

Instead of genuine efforts to achieve talks over a new agreement with the community, Equinox Gold, has resorted to provocation and threats, and is even suing the Ejido in Mexican courts.

BMO, CIBC, Scotiabank, and the National Bank of Canada are funding this unnecessary conflict having participated in a $500 million credit agreement with Equinox in March 2020. These banks have a responsibility to demand Equinox stop putting communities, and investors, at risk.

Call on BMO, CIBC, Scotiabank, and the National Bank of Canada to demand that Equinox negotiate in good faith without threats.


Barrick Gold, which is headquartered in Toronto and was until 2019 the largest gold mining company in the world, " generated significant controversy around the world, including allegations of mass rape[58] and other violent abuses,[59] hundreds of murders,[60] forcible eviction and mass arson.[61] Barrick and certain of its executives have been charged at various times and in various jurisdictions with bribery,[62] conspiracy,[63] forgery, money-laundering,[64] tax-evasion,[65] and incalculable environmental damage.[66]" (

In Papua New Guinea Barrick Gold security guards have been involve d in mass rape. 


A group photo of Porgera community women and men who say they were raped or violently abused at the gold mine owned by Barrick Gold Corporation. (

At least 130 women were raped by security guards at Barrick Gold Corporation’s open pit mine in Porgera, Papua New Guinea. Some say the compensation they received was inadequate. ...

As of September 2010, Barrick employed a private security force of 443 guards — 279 from Porgera, 153 from around Papua New Guinea, and 11 supervisors from outside the country —to detain trespassers and hand them over to police, according to a Human Rights Watch report.

After first ignoring their stories, the company finally acknowledged the problem in 2010 and in 2012 it created a process to compensate the women for the abuse they suffered. In return, the women signed waivers promising not to sue the company in any court in the world.

These rapes are undisputed by the mining company. The only matter in dispute is whether the women received justice. And a new joint report by the human rights clinics at the Harvard and Columbia law schools says they did not. ...

One of the report's authors, Sarah Knuckey, who presented her findings in front of the United Nations this week, says while Barrick Gold created an "innovative remedy approach" in 2012 — one of the first company-created mechanisms like it in the world — the process has still resulted in a deep feeling of unfairness among the women who went through it.

Earlier this year, 11 women who were raped by the company's guards but did not sign away their rights, received 10 times as much compensation from the company because they had attorneys advocate on their behalf, according to the report released Thursday.

"In July 2015, Barrick offered each of the 120 women an additional payment, but taken together, the initial packages and additional payment remain significantly less than the international settlement [that the 11 women received]," the report states.

The company's mechanism had "specific positive features that other companies should look to as guidance," the report says, but it "falls short" and "is not a model that other corporations should replicate wholesale."

"The women, if you ask them now, are you happy with the remedy that you received, many of them will say something like, this remedy is like a mother giving a crying child a small snack," says Knuckey. "They feel insulted, and embarrassed and in some ways quite ashamed about the remedy they got."


In Papua New Guinea, Barrick Gold was also involved in the burning down of 200 local houses near the company's Porgera gold mine. 

In a pre-dawn raid on Friday, June 6, Papua New Guinea (PNG) police Mobile Units evicted residents from Wingima village near Barrick’s Porgera gold mine and burnt down some 200 houses, according to reports from eye witnesses in Porgera as well as from local Member of Parliament Nixon Mangape. Victims said they had no warning and were not given eviction notices in advance of the attack.
In a repeat of house burnings in 2009, MiningWatch has been informed that this raid was also accompanied by Mobile Unit police violence against villagers and the rapes of at least ten women and young girls.
The Tiene clan of Wingima, which was also targeted in 2009, are the traditional local landowners. People who have now lost shelter and the contents of their houses are Tiene landowners or relatives who can only live in the village at the invitation of the Tiene.
Barrick’s Porgera Joint Venture (PJV) mine houses, feeds, and financially supports units of PNG’s infamous Mobile Units, in spite of their ­reputation for violence and their previous involvement in hundreds of house burnings in the mine’s lease area, as documented by Amnesty International.

Following the 2009 house burnings, the Porgera Lando­wners Association (PLOA) reportedly obtained an order from the National Court of Papua New Guinea restraining the State from burning down more houses. However, reportedly, following a request by Barrick (Nuigini) Limited, the National Court removed the restraining order, arguing that the police has ultimate power to execute such operations under the terms of a State of Emergency (SOE).
In April, a State of Emergency was called by the Government of PNG, leading to the deployment of additional Mobile Units to the Porgera Valley, to supplement those already supported there by the PJV mine. One reported goal of the SOE was to crack down on unauthorized scavenging of ore by residents living around the mine. Barrick Gold has not managed to stop dangerous incursions into the pit and across its massive waste flows of desperate people eking out a living. The mine and its uncontrolled waste flows have destroyed agricultural land and traditional subsistence activities.
The raid took place while the leadership of the PLOA were away from the Porgera Valley. They had reportedly travelled to Kokopo, East New Britain, for a meeting with PJV’s Community Affairs Manager and representatives of the National Government, and the Provincial Government of Enga Province, where the mine is located. The meeting was an attempt to come to agreement on terms for a new Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for the operation of the mine. ...

“It is simply unconscionable that Barrick is turning its back on the obvious need to resettle these communities away from the mine, but continues to house and financially support PNG Mobile Units that have a history of human rights abuses, including house burnings, in those communities,” says Catherine Coumans, Asia-Pacific Program coordinator at MiningWatch Canada. “It is unacceptable that violence is being used to manage the very serious problems associated with this mine and its negative impacts on the ability of local people to live healthy lives and to sustain themselves.”


With the sexual abuse and racism displayed towards women working at within Canadian mining firms and towards those in surrounding communities in Canada, it is hardly surprising that such attitudes would manifest themselves internationally as shown in the last post. 

1. Indigenous Communities and Industrial Camps
“In research conducted in the Fort St. James area (Shandro et al. 2014), data from the local RCMP showed a 38 per cent increase in sexual assaults during the first year of the construction phase of an industrial project, as well as an increase in sex work in areas where there is an increase in industrial traffic (Shandro et al. 2014). Indigenous women are particularly vulnerable to being victimized by sexual assault (Department of Justice 2015), and particularly so when industrial camps are located near remote communities” p. 22.  ...

2. Indigenous Gender-based Analysis
“Violence-related deaths among Indigenous women is five times higher than the national average for Canadian women.85 The risk of sexual violence, substance abuse and sexually transmitted infections due to rape and sex trafficking is particularly high for Indigenous women and girls in proximity to industrial camps.”86 ....Indigenous women are disproportionately affected by the negative socio-economic effects of development and are less likely to benefit from employment opportunities.”87 ....“Though limited data is available on the experience of gender-diverse Indigenous peoples in the mining industry, one study found that 43% of gender-diverse Indigenous participants in Ontario had experienced physical or sexual violence and 67% had been forced to move as a result of their gender identity.” ...

3. Women in Canadian Mining
In 2018, Peltier-Huntley conducted an on-line questionnaire survey of employees working in management positions within mining and those who had left mining occupations. Of 540 who responded (please note the points below are direct quotes from the document):

  • 214 (39%) respondents shared 251 stories of their experiences with (n = 109 or 43%) or observations of (n = 96 or 37%) discrimination (n = 116 of 46%) and harassment (n = 117 or 47%) incidents in the mining industry. (p.90)

  • The most common aggressors were identified as male or men (n = 33 or 21%), supervisor (n = 30 or 19%), worker (n = 18 or 12%), manager (n = 16 or 10%), and senior (n = 12 or 8%). P.91

  • Aggressors were often in a position of power (n = 75 or 48%), such as a client, supervisors, or manager. The receivers were most often identified as: (n = 56), indicative of a first-hand account or by their gender: female or women (n = 52). There were a few accounts of women being the aggressor (n = 4) toward other women or men, or men being the receiver of aggressions (n = 7) from other men. The term “bullying” was used most often when men received inappropriate behaviour from other men. (p. 91)

  • Harassment (n = 116) included the attacks which were personal in nature, overt, and may have occurred on multiple occasions, such as bullying. Discrimination (n = 117) incidents were more general, less personal, and often subtle in nature. Some incidents (n =18 or 7%) were described in such a way that it was not possible to determine the severity of the action. The method of administering the offence was described in terms of involving physical contact (n = 16 or 6%) or comments (n = 107 or 43%). Comments could include texting, emailing, or verbal communication. The nature of the offences was identified in 161 (64%) cases. The nature of offences were deemed to be sexual and/or sexist (n = 144 or 89%), racist (n = 11 or 7%), religious (n = 4 or 2%), or homophobic (n = 2 or 1%). All of the 16 incidents involving physical contact were also sexual in nature. Of the 251 incidents, 109 (43%) involved first hand experiences; the vast majority (n = 98 or 84%) of those at the receiving end of the incident were women. A further 46 (18%) incidents were witnessed by the survey respondent, where 60% (n = 28) of the witnesses were men. 78% (n = 36) of the survey participant who were confided in after the incident occurred (n = 46 or 18%) were male. (pp. 92-93)

  • The setting in which these incidents occurred were mainly at the workplace (n = 184 or 73%). Some incidents occurred off-site, such as at a conference, or after work hours (n = 16 or 6%). Thirty-seven (17%) of the 214 respondents who shared their experiences with harassment and discrimination in the Canadian mining industry indicated they had multiple examples of inappropriate behaviour to share. (p. 93)

    From: Peltier-Huntley, Jocelyn. 2019. Closing The Gender Gap In Canadian Mining: An Interdisciplinary Mixed Methods Study. Unpublished Msc Thesis. Saskatoon: University of Saskatchewan. (available from the online University repository)  (


The examples of human rights abuses by Canadian owned Barrick Gold in Papua New Guinea outlined in post 58 (mass rape of at least 130 women) and post 59 (and the burning down of 200 homes) are part of a "30 year of reckless mining" history and a long legacy of human rights abuses by the firm. 

Everlyn Gaupe, a survivor of sexual violence at the Porgera mine in Papua New Guinea, speaks with protesters outside Barrick Gold’s annual general meeting on Tues. April 25, 2017 in downtown Toronto. Photo by Riley Sparks

As Barrick Gold executives once again face their shareholders, investors should be asking themselves why this company is continuously embroiled in conflict and legal action involving its deeply harmful relationships with the indigenous communities that surround its mines.

The callous disregard for the communities around Barrick mines has consequences. Once again, Barrick is facing legal action in the U.K. on behalf of victims of shootings and beatings by its mine security at the North Mara Gold Mine in Tanzania; the previous suit on the same issues was settled out of court just five years ago. In yearly visits since 2014, MiningWatch Canada has documented over 200 cases of excess use of force at this mine, and supports some of the victims through the current legal action by Cardiff-based firm Hugh James.

In Papua New Guinea (PNG), Barrick is on the verge of losing access to what CEO Mark Bristow calls a mine with “tier one potential.” The country’s Prime Minister, James Marape, has pointed to environmental and legacy issues as factors for denying Barrick’s subsidiary a renewed 20-year licence. As a leading partner in the Porgera Joint Venture mine for 14 years, Barrick has been at the helm as the environmental impacts have become overwhelming and the social “legacy issues,” including brutal human rights abusescommitted by the mine's private and public security forces, have deeply angered the local indigenous landowners. ...

While media focus has been on Barrick, the PNG government and the landowner agents, in order to understand the breadth and depth of disillusion with the mine one must turn to the Porgera grassroots organizations that have fought for human rights and environmental justice for Porgerans for over 15 years. In a newly released statement from the leadership of six local organizations they say:

As Barrick Gold and the Chinese government, on behalf of its corporate national Zijin Mining, threaten our Prime Minister as though they have some kind of right to the gold under our feet, and as our own 24 landowner agents argue amongst themselves about how to get the best financial deal out of the mine, we raise our voices on behalf of too many Porgerans who have suffered human rights abuses and very serious environmental impacts because of 30 years of reckless mining led by Canada’s Placer Dome and now Barrick Gold.

These organizations, and the human rights victims they represent, need to be included in the court ordered negotiations now underway and in any further discussions about the future of the mine.


Canadian mining magnate Peter Munk received many glowing eulogies in the mainstream media upon his death in 2018, overlooking his Barrick Gold company's legacy of plunder, environmental degradation and human rights abuses across the world. 

Everyln Gaupe and Joycelyn Mandi – survivors of gang rape at the hands of Porgera mine security – travelled to downtown Toronto to protest Barrick Gold’s annual general meeting. Photo by Allan Lissner.

In Ontario, patients benefit from state-of-the-art treatment at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at the Toronto General Hospital – funded by a $100 million donation that lowered Munk’s tax burden. Meanwhile the only hospital in Porgera, Papua New Guinea sits right next to Barrick Gold’s Porgera Joint Venture mine, and has been closed for over a year. Here, the company Munk founded contravenes international environmental norms by dumping millions of tonnes of mine wastedirectly into the river system each year, contaminating that water for hundreds of kilometres and causing chemical burns to villagers who come in contact with the waste.

On the other side of the world, over 50 residents living near Barrick’s Pueblo Viejo mine in the Dominican Republic reported lesions on their bodies following direct contact with the water in the area. The lesions are consistent with known effects of cyanide exposure. A group of community members who had been exposed to contaminated water also tested positive for cyanide traces above safe levels, and unacceptably high levels of heavy metals in their blood.

These, and hundreds of other environmental violations at Barrick mines across the world, destroy livelihoods, displace populations, divide communities, and harm human health. Among other human rights violations, Barrick’s presence has led to the militarization of entire communities in Tanzania and Papua New Guinea, where people routinely die in confrontations with mine security. Environmental racism is always gendered: In 2015, 120 women alleged that they were raped by guards at Barrick’s Porgera mine.

Barrick Gold’s international violations, which allowed for Munk’s philanthropy, have been met with a studied lack of scrutiny by Canadian authorities. Indeed, Munk’s success is only the logical consequence of Canadian policy: lax oversight for extractive ventures, incentives for prospecting, unfettered access to speculative capital, and tax frameworks that favour the accumulation of wealth by mining speculators at the expense of the public good.

Not only has the Canadian state helped make neocolonial extractive ventures profitable, regardless of the environmental and human cost, it has also offered diplomatic support for Canadian mining interests overseas. When a 2009 coup and subsequent fraudulent election in Honduras led to a government that has been accused of grave human rights violations, narco-trafficking, and corruption, Canada remained a steadfast ally because of the regime’s support of Canadian mining interests in the country. Moreover, the Canadian legal system makes it nearly impossible for those harmed by Canadian companies abroad to seek justice in Canadian courts.

Almost every news story about Munk highlights his loyalty to the country that allowed him to amass his wealth, after his family fled from Nazi-occupied Hungary. On its surface, this narrative is a stale rehashing of the trope of Canadian hospitality to immigrants. But that a man with such global influence should make his most significant donations within Canada also illustrates how the tax write-off from his donations are highly subsidised by the Canadian taxpayer, with no accountability in return. And certainly, Munk profited greatly from his connections at the highest echelons of Canadian politics, with the likes of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and former Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird joining Barrick Gold’s International Advisory Board after leaving office, giving the corporation enormous political clout and access to policy makers....

Of special concern are Munk’s connections with his alma mater, the University of Toronto, which have helped undermine campaigns pushing for greater accountability in the mining sector. Specifically, the Munk School of Global Affairs at UofT – founded by a $51 million donation from Peter and Melanie Munk – was involved with a Harper-administration push-back against recommendations by the 2009 National Roundtables on Corporate Social Responsibility. The roundtables called for environmental and human rights standards for Canadian businesses abroad, and for an ombudsperson to investigate allegations of company abuses. Instead, the Harper government created a toothless CSR Counsellor position, first filled by Marketa Evans, the former director of the UofT’s Munk Centre for International Studies (the Munk School of Global Affairs’ predecessor). At the same time, the Harper Government pursued a pro-mining strategy that channeled Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) funds to community projects linked to Canadian mining operations. CIDA also abruptly stopped giving money to several nongovernmental organizations that advocate for the human rights of mining-affected communities, including Kairos, Development and Peace, and the Mennonite Central Committee. When the Canadian government moved to dismantle CIDA altogether, to further align international giving with foreign policy objectives like trade, this move was marshalled by none other than Janice Stein, the Munk School director at that time, who served on an advisory panel for CIDA restructuring.

From Latin America to the Asia-Pacific and Africa, Peter Munk’s legacy of environmental destruction has health consequences that far outweigh his support for cardiovascular care and university research in Toronto. Today, Barrick Gold – Canada’s largest mining company and the world’s largest gold mining company – holds their Annual General Meeting, outside of which activists from Toronto’s Mining Injustice Solidarity Network will be protesting. We must not allow Munk’s money to exonerate him – or his legacy – of his crimes. The violence and displacement that accompany the rapacious ventures of Barrick Gold around the world – with the complicity of Canada’s financial, media, academic, and diplomatic sectors – has led to dispossession and death for many communities. Who will publish the eulogies for them?