Wednesday, April 1st, 2015
To coincide with the State of Extraction conference held in Vancouver, BC this past weekend, hundreds marched through the streets on Saturday, March 28 as part of a Toxic Tour showcasing Canadian mining company offices. The guided tour stopped outside major Canadian extractive industry headquarters and speakers gave information on human rights and other abuses by Canadian resource companies like Chevron, Goldcorp and Barrick Gold. The State of Extraction brought together indigenous leaders from BC, Latin America, Africa, and the Philippines, as well as academics, including keynote speaker, Chris Hedges, artists and activists and the general public to discuss resource capitalism in Canada and its influence on the world.

Vancouver is home to over 800 global mining and mineral companies and Canadian based companies are often embroiled in disputes related to the social and environmental impacts of their activities in Canada, Latin America, South America, and Africa. Communities affected by Canadian extractive projects increasingly report conflict, environmental devastation, water toxicity and scarcity, violations of indigenous rights, and other human rights abuses including violent repression -- even murder -- of residents who speak out in opposition to extractive projects. Instead of regulating extractive practices, Canada's government assists extractive corporations with tax breaks, subsidies, lax stock market regulations, diplomatic support, and immunity from prosecution for abuses overseas.

In November, three Eritrean men filed a civil lawsuit in a Vancouver court against Nevsun Resources Limited over the use of slave labour at Nevsun's Bisha Mine in Eritrea. The BC case follows the filing of a similar Vancouver lawsuit in June 2014 against Tahoe Resources for the shooting of protestors in Guatemala. The suit against Nevsun represents the fifth active case of its kind in Canadian courts, in addition to an action now before the Supreme Court of Canada to enforce a multi-billion dollar judgment obtained in Ecuador against Chevron for environmental destruction.

"Survivors of abuses associated with Canadian mining companies are increasingly frustrated and vocal about the lack of redress in Canada because there is no meaningful government regulation or process to seek remedies from Canadian corporations," said Matt Eisenbrandt, Canadian Center for International Justice's Legal Director. "Survivors are turning to civil lawsuits as the only means for accountability and compensation."

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Susan MacVittie
Managing Editor
Watershed Sentinel
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Editorial Feature: Toxic Tour March in Vancouver

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