Right now, the Ontario government is seeking public feedback on which kinds of projects should require comprehensive environmental assessment according to the new law. We KNOW you’ve got something to say about this.
On July 8th, 2020, the Ford government introduced Bill 197, the COVID-19 Economy Recovery Act, an omnibus bill changing many facets of life in Ontario. Just two weeks later, with zero opportunity for meaningful public input as required under the Environmental Bill of Rights, this bill was passed into law.
Schedule 6 of the bill makes major changes to how environmental assessment happens in Ontario, as well as to what kinds of projects need to follow the rules of transparency, consultation, and evidence-based practice required under the Environmental Assessment Act. But have you tried actually reading the thing? We did, and… to us, it was about as clear as mud.
We reached out to our friends at the Canadian Environmental Law Association to help us understand this law. This week, we’re launching three explainer videos to help pass along what we learned!
Special thanks to Joel Famadico for filming and editing these videos for us!
Are you as confused about Bill 197 as we were? Watch these videos to help you figure out what’s changing, what’s at risk, what’s at stake, and — most importantly — what YOU can do right now to stop this from getting worse.
We hope you’re doing as well as possible during these times of both incredible difficulty and powerful global uprising. Many of you, like us, may be spending a lot of time figuring out what effective activism looks like in the new terrain of a pandemic that asks many to stay home while others risk their lives in workplaces that have been deemed “essential.”
Amidst all the headlines about COVID-19 you may have noticed a few stories squeak by about the ways in which extractive industries are profiteering in these times of crisis. Many of you saw back in March that while many small businesses and some entire industries questioned whether they would have a future, mining projects were put on the list of essential services in Ontario. But that’s not all that’s been happening.
On June 2nd, our allies at MiningWatch Canada released a report alongside a number of other organizations around the world that detailed four key mining industry trends during the COVID-19 pandemic that pose an immediate threat to mining-impacted communities. Like many others, we are deeply troubled by the mining industry’s despicable practices in a time when people are trying to keep their communities alive and safe from COVID-19.
While the world is dealing with the public health emergency of COVID-19, mining companies around the world continue their exploitative extraction of resources, putting local and Indigenous communities at further risk. Companies have been linked to numerous virus outbreaks and have often refused to stop activities to investigate or to protect their workers. A few recent examples of mining companies’ COVID-19 outbreaks and inaction include:
There are many compounding risks to mining during a pandemic. We know that mines are often located in remote areas where communities have little access to hospitals and emergency equipment, leaving them without the health supports they need during this crisis. We also know that mine workers work in confined spaces and in close proximity, encouraging the virus to spread at high speed. An outbreak could be catastrophic for populations already suffering from respiratory conditions and air pollution from mining activities and from limited access to water, taken from them by mines that consume water in large quantities.
While the entire world was glued to watching virus transmission rates soar, many mining companies have been operating as though we are not in a pandemic at all, expecting Indigenous communities to continue with all permitting processes despite all of their resources going towards keeping safe from the COVID-19 virus. For example, Chief Chris Moonias from Neskantaga First Nation in the so-called Ring of Fire has spoken publicly about how he has been pulled between pandemic preparation and participating in consultation processes, for fear that the consultation would stop altogether. In early June, nine faculty members at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School sent a letter to Minister Greg Rickford, imploring the provincial government to press pause on mineral staking and permitting processes on Indigenous territory during the COVID-19 pandemic.
MISN supports all communities resisting mining extraction and struggling to protect themselves from the irresponsible and dangerous actions of mining companies during the pandemic. We continue to demand the immediate cessation of all mining activities to protect communities around the world from the virus.
We also support the demands articulated in the global solidarity letter, including the following:
We at the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network stand in fierce solidarity with all those who are calling to defund the institution of policing in this moment of both immense devastation and immense possibility.
Defunding the police matters because Black and Indigenous lives matter. The present-day abolition movement was birthed through hundreds of years of thinking, activism, and transformative practice in Black communities facing slavery, police violence, and pervasive criminalization. Ruth Wilson-Gilmore says that “abolition requires that we change one thing, which is everything”. It is abundantly clear to us that the role of police in society is not to protect people, but to protect property, capital, and the status quo of colonial, white supremacist capitalism. This institution is not reformable. Defund, disarm, demilitarize. Abolish the police. Change everything.
Part of the mandate of the MISN collective is to combat the myth of Canadian exceptionalism, which is the idea that Canada is uniquely peaceful and welcoming of diversity, especially as compared to the United States. Canada’s policing system is just one of the many ways in which violence against Black and Indigenous people is embedded into the foundational structures of our country. The RCMP, for example, was created as an occupying force to remove Indigenous peoples from their lands, enabling ‘resource’ extraction. This racist and colonial legacy continues today, rearing its head recently through the RCMP’s brutal and violent arrest of Chief Allan Adam in Alberta.
As Torontonians, we are intimately aware that police violence and profiling is a daily fear and reality amongst Black and Indigenous people in our city. Black residents in Tkaronto are 20 times more likely to be killed by police than white people. We cannot allow the idea that American police are ‘worse’ to cause us to turn away from a dedicated pursuit of justice for those who have lost their lives to Toronto Police Services’ racism. Just a few weeks ago, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, an Afro-Indigenous woman in Toronto, died during an interaction with Toronto police. After her death, her family and community mobilized a call for a full, transparent, public and independent investigation into her death which the authorities have yet to agree to.
Regis is one of too many Indigenous, Black, and Afro-Indigenous community members whose lives were ended by police violence and allowed because of police impunity. As we speak her name we also remember D’Andre Campbell, who was killed inside his home by Peel Regional Police in April. Chantel Moore and Rodney Levi, both killed in New Brunswick by police sent to ensure their safety during a so-called ‘wellness check’. In the past 10 weeks, police across Canada have killed nine Indigenous people.
This system is not “broken”. This is the outcome of a system purposefully designed to uphold colonialism, white supremacy and capitalism. The only response is to pull resources away from the mechanisms that enact these violences and invest them in ways that nourish mutual aid, transformative justice, food and housing security, and community-led supports.
As a grassroots mining justice organization, we also see the ways that militarized policing upholds the violences of the resource extraction industry, whether it’s the RCMP carrying out forced evictions in Wet’suwet’en territory, or the policing that protects the financial district in Toronto where many companies are headquartered, or the way that police are used to repress resistance to the construction of mining projects in Canada and around the world. A great deal of the harm experienced by mining-impacted communities is enacted by local, often militarized police at the behest of Canadian mining corporations. These police brutalize. They rape. They surveil. They threaten. They contribute to bogus criminal charges being filed against community leaders. They set villages on fire as they evict people from their homes to make way for an industrial mining project. They attempt to repress the vital resistance of powerful movements of people trying to have a say in what happens to them. Communities continue to resist these violences in ways that all of us could learn from. But at what cost?
Mining companies attempt to avoid responsibility by blaming the harms we described above on the “violent” culture of the countries or communities in which they operate. But impacted communities know, and we know, that these police actions are empowered by, elicited by, funded by, and otherwise enabled by Canadian corporations, Canadian embassies in service of those corporations, Canadian government interventions into local mining laws, and free trade agreements that benefit the Canadian economy. Police violence tells us, loud and clear, what matters most to those in power, no matter where you are. Capital over human lives. Colonial white supremacy over Black power and Indigenous sovereignty. The rights of transnational corporations over the future of our planet.
We add these comments about policing and the mining industry not to decentre the vital focus on the experiences of Black and Indigenous people on Turtle Island, but rather to shed light on the vast webs of impact and potential solidarity that could be leveraged in service of building a world without policing. We call on all our allies doing environmental justice, climate justice, and anti-capitalist work to think about how the question of policing intersects with the issues you organize around, to think about what you can contribute, and to support the leadership of Black and Indigenous organizations in the fight to transform the ways we think of safety and whose safety matters. We are doing the same.
New to the idea of abolition?
If you, like us, are based in Tkaronto, here are some things you can do right now to support:
For more on our stance on abolition: Click here.
On March 1st, the world’s largest mining convention (PDAC, or the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada) began in Toronto, as it does every year. In response, we gathered alongside over 500 people outside the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in solidarity with every community on Turtle Island and beyond that has found itself staring down the barrel of a gun for opposing Canada’s ongoing colonial project through violent resource extraction. This rally was planned by a loose coalition of a dozen allied Toronto groups and endorsed by over 50 organizations and groups who all supported our mission to disrupt PDAC in demand of the following:
With this mission in our hearts, we came together en masse and it was big and beautiful!
Below is a selection of photos from the rally taken by Allan Lissner.
Michael Zender posted a beautiful photo album here.
Scroll down below the photos for a media round-up, additional disruptive actions, and more.
And, of course, the rally was covered by our “friends” at mining.com: Anti-mining protesters block entrances to PDAC annual convention
We also managed to briefly hijack the coverage of Justin Trudeau’s speech the following day at PDAC:
This year we saw an incredible surge of interest from community members and activist groups across the city who see common cause in coming together when powerful decision-makers who are destroying our planet and the values that we stand for gather. When they gather, we will be there to disrupt business as usual! PDAC is just one of many manifestations of the broader crisis that we find ourselves in, of violent capitalism, colonialism, displacement, and corporate impunity. The good news is, people across the world seem to be waking up and realizing that this world needs to change now, and they are joining the rest of us who have known that for a long time in doing something about it. Thank you to everybody who worked so hard in bringing this one moment into reality – we look forward to creating much more with you.
Until next year, with love:
The Mining Injustice Solidarity Network, Artists for Climate & Migrant Justice and Indigenous Sovereignty, Extinction Rebellion Toronto, No One Is Illegal Toronto, Showing Up For Racial Justice Toronto, Climate Justice Toronto, OPIRG Toronto, Fridays for Future Toronto, Toronto Anarchist Bookfair Collective, Church of St. Stephen in-the-Fields, as well as well as many individual community members who were indispensable in making this happen!