People Before Profit! An Epic #DisruptPDAC Report-Back

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:

  • No more pipelines
  • No fossil fuel extraction
  • No more open pit mines
  • No more land theft and forced displacement
  • No more corporate impunity
  • Status for all, including all those displaced by extractive industries and their destructive impacts
  • Full recognition of Indigenous sovereignty
  • Respect for local self-determination

With this mission in our hearts, we came together en masse and it was big and beautiful!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ha5k-i1L4Kk
This beautiful video made by XR Toronto really captures the spirit of the day

On Sunday March 1, together we:

  • Flooded and blocked Front Street for a total of four hours
  • Surrounded the Metro Toronto Convention Centre with three roving parties of justice-loving people
  • Blocked all the major entrances to the convention centre – the two major pedestrian entrances on the North and South sides of the building, plus the parking garage entrance on the East side
  • Unfurled a beautiful 50-foot banner saying “Blood On Your Hands” from a prominent railing inside the building, for all PDAC attendees to see, as well as a smaller People Before Profit banner
  • Livestream broadcast the rally to a public square in Ecuador, with additional viewers from all across Latin America: link to view the livestream here
  • Ate delicious food at the Food Beyond Extraction food cart
  • Protected each other and managed to avoid any arrests despite all the awesome direct action and the large police presence including riot cops on horses
  • Dealt with a medical emergency due to police violence thanks to street medics’ quick response
  • Blocked the police’s Clearview Artificial Intelligence camera for facial recognition (first time it’s been used in Toronto at a public protest) for a majority of the protest with a tall banner (more on OPP’s illegal use of Clearview here)
  • Hung almost 300 red ribbons on a string spanning the entirety of Front St, in honour of those who lost their lives in the Samarco and Brumadinho mining disasters in Brazil. This installation blew beautifully in the breeze, and led one of our roving troupes up and down Lower Simcoe Street as it moved. 
  • Raised over $700 for the Unist’ot’en Legal Fund at the Food Beyond Extraction food cart
  • Danced, marched, and sang to the music made by Maracatu Mar Aberto (with friends from Baque de Bamba), Cee Reality, Cassie Norton, and many other spontaneous eruptions of song that took place throughout the afternoon
  • Heard messages directly from impacted communities about how mining is affecting their lives and livelihoods.

Photos

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.

Media Coverage

Here are some of the best pieces that were written about the rally:
All of Toronto’s mainstream media outlets covered the rally and included our messaging! Some pieces that were published include:

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:

Throughout the rest of the four-day convention, we kept the heat on PDAC:

  • MISN crashed the keynote speech by drowning it out with the sound of jackhammers, in critique of Ontario’s free entry system. We wrote an article about it
  • Some mysterious friends ensured that all visitors to the PDAC washrooms were confronted with the realities of the mining industry by stickering the backs of all stall doors…
  • NOII did a banner action as PDAC attendees gathered for the invitation only finale gala at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel, chanting “No Borders! No Mines! No Dirty Corporate Pipelines!”
  • Members of the Chilean community in Toronto and allies held a solidarity rally to greet Chile’s Minister of Mining at PDAC and denounce his attempts to encourage even more mining investment in a country where Canadian mining companies are playing a central role in exacerbating the worst drought in recent history. Watch the rally livestream here, which was viewed over 17,000 times with incredible messages of support pouring in from Chile!
  • A stealthy crew of activists in suits attended PDAC every day to fulfill specific information-gathering requests on behalf of dozens of communities directly impacted by the projects of the mining companies at PDAC.

This isn’t over!

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!

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