Protest Barrick, a network of ab original communities from Australia, the U.S., Latin America and Asia, converged on Barrick Gold Corporation's shareholder meeting at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre May 2 to serve the company an eviction notice from First Nation land.
As shareholders entered the meeting, representatives of Nevada's Shoshone Nation and Australia's Wiradjuri handed them leaflets alleging water depletion and contamination from cyanide, a chemical used to extract gold from crushed ore.
Some demonstrators held proxy ballots and were able to enter the AGM to personally tell shareholders and chair Peter Munk what their communities are facing.
"I approached Munk after the meeting to tell him how Barrick is desecrating our sacred site, our dreaming place [Lake Cowal],'' says Neville "Chappy" Williams, an elder of the Wiradjuri from New South Wales.
The answer from Munk, he says, was "I'm so sorry.''
Williams served the eviction notice during the question period and demanded prompt action to cease all mining operations. Lake Cowal, the heartland of the Wiradjuri nation, is used for religious ceremonies, but access to it has been extremely difficult due to mining operations.
This was Williams's first trip outside Australia, and he says it was worth travelling across the world to confront Barrick. After the AGM, he says, some shareholders approached him to say they're considering selling their stock.
Author and journalist Naomi Klein kicked off the Protest Barrick event at a movie screening May 1 at the Brunswick Theatre, where she emphasized that gold, the cause of all this heartbreak, is an unnecessary commodity.
"This is our company, a Toronto-based company, and it's not an isolated case,'' said Klein. Canadians, she says, have a lot of experience mining on First Nations lands and are exporting these tactics abroad.
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