The Project
Crude Gold is a series of short documentaries showcasing 5 pivotal cases of foreign-funded mining exploitation connected to Canadian investors. This project is timely and urgent due to the violence experienced by activists, union leaders and indigenous peoples who are in resistance to profiled mining and petroleum extraction projects.

Every year in Colombia numerous union leaders, union activists and union members are assassinated. Similarly, human rights defenders are targeted, threatened and murdered in a fog of impunity and unanswered questions.

The overwhelming majority of crimes and human rights violations related to the armed conflict are concentrated in regions with a major presence of mining investment. According to the Office of the Auditor General of Colombia, these regions are the scene of 78% of crimes against trade unionists and 89% of violations of Native peoples’ rights. Amidst this context, mining companies registered in the Toronto Stock Exchange continue to benefit from the violent and ongoing armed conflict in Colombia.

The videos explore foreign investment conflicts, and the role and impacts to trade union members in a country that is labelled as the most dangerous place in the world to be a trade unionist. Each story highlights local activists who are confronting injustice. These brave individuals engage in union resistance, demand justice for human rights violations and raise awareness for these important issues, often at great personal cost.Working in collaboration with members of McGill Research Group Investigating Canadian Mining in Latin America (MICLA) filming took place in the summer of 2014. All footage and interviews were filmed in the affected communities.
A Canadian Connection
Mining and petroleum extraction companies registered in the Toronto Stock Exchange and located in Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary, benefit from the violent and ongoing armed conflict in Colombia. The cases selected are directly or indirectly linked to Canadian investors, a relationship exposed as each video explores foreign investment conflicts, lack of access to justice for those affected, and the role and impacts to trade union members in a country that is labelled as the most dangerous place in the world to be a trade unionist.

Canadian mining companies comprise over 75% of mining businesses worldwide, yet they have incredible power of decision-making abroad, where they dictate on issues that affect communities deeply, such as: use of water resources, use and ownership of land, and the security and militarization of communities. In order to understand how this power imbalance was created, we need to look at history through a decolonizing lens. A helpful document that links these issues with local policies in Canada is “In the National Interest?” a report by MiningWatch Canada and the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG). Below is a short summary of its contents:

“The Canadian government has increasingly dedicated its diplomatic services, aid budget, and trade and investment policy to promote and favour the interests of Canadian mining companies and to influence decisions over extractive projects and related policies. The trend of repression and deregulation in Canada to favour mining, oil, and gas projects is consistent with the model that the Canadian government promotes abroad".

Here in Canada and throughout the Americas, many governments have embraced resource extraction as the key sector to fuel economic growth, neglecting other sectors – or even at their expense. This is creating unprecedented demand for land and other resources, such as water and energy. In Latin America, economic dependency on intensive primary resource extraction has become known as ‘extractivism’.
Increasingly, when Indigenous and Afro-descendent peoples, farmers, environmentalists, journalists, and other concerned citizens speak out against this model for economic growth, particular projects and/or their impacts, they become the targets of threats, accusations, and smears that attempt to label and punish them as enemies of the state, opponents of development, delinquents, criminals, and terrorists. In the worst cases, this leads to physical violence and murder.”

See full report here: " and-environment-defenders-americas"