OAXACA, Mexico - To honour Idle No More's global day of action, artist Sánez unveiled a new mural here Monday, January 28, depicting the water, corn and animals local indigenous people are defending against extractive industries.
The artwork was to celebrate the wrap-up of the Yes To Life, No To Mining conference running from January 17 to 20, which drew 400 activists from around Mesoamerica to Capulálpam de Méndez in southern Mexico.
The overnight temperatures in the mountain town were approaching freezing when delegates gathered.
Rosalinda Dionicio, from San José del Progreso, was still walking with a cane after being shot last March allegedly by proponents of the nearby Cuzcatlán mine, run by Canadian company Fortuna Silver. Dionicio was relatively lucky. Her cousin and fellow activist, Bernardo Vásquez Sánchez, was killed in the same attack.
Canada's association with the dirty politics of mining isn't confined to foreign soil. John Cutfeet from the KI First Nation in northern Ontario told the meeting that while companies operating in the global South are "more aggressive," the poisoning of aboriginal air, water and soil is part of the same narrative.
The KI, he said, have instituted their own laws, declaring those of Ontario and Canada unfit because they deny indigenous communities "the right to say no" to mining.
Similarly, the host location for the meet was significant. Besides beautiful mountain vistas, locals here, like the KI, offered reason for hope. In 2007, the community succeeded in having Canada's Continuum Resources suspend operations from Capulálpam when arsenic and lead contamination of drinking water was confirmed by a federal regulatory body.
Although few other participants could boast of similar successes, the sense of possibility was high. The final statement, in true Idle No More style, called on "the people of Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Canada and Mexico to strengthen our networks of resistance."
Writers Liam Barrington-Bush and Jen Wilton live in Oaxaca, Mexico.