Friday, April 27, 2012

Justice, Love and Human Dignity ( Only a Dream)



(In solidarity with my folks in the Philippines, to my adoptive cousins in Guatemala, and to my African community)

 A mother's view of progress: in relation to  human dignity, respect to nature, and maybe economics and politics?

I was born in a farming community, and as a young kid, I have always respected nature because it provides food in the form of natural resources (trees and shrubs that I foraged food) and nature tantrums like typhoons which had wiped out many of our crops and our homes, which we always rebuild using scrap materials.

Some people think I am political, some people think I am passionate,  and I simply think I love too much; to live where there is justice and equality. And you can think now, that world does not exist, and I am a dreamer.  To me, I am just a wanderer, and simple human specie trying to enjoy what my eyes can see, and what my other senses felt. I want the next generation to see what I see, and feel the joy of nature, and if that is political, then so be it. 

I belong to the organization Development and Peace (, because I believe in the organization. I could have chosen another organization, but this specific organization reflects my own principles of life, love and human dignity. Maybe, there are other principles that I do not agree with,  pertaining to how the organization is run, but then again...that is true to any organization. Same logic applies to my government, as I do not agree how my government spend "our taxes", but I still accept my government rules, and pay my taxes.

Over the years, I have come to see and understand how stuff works, but I am still learning more each day. I had many travel adventures, all of which in my own desire to fly, and sometimes with organizations that I particularly get myself involved.

In 2006, I toured Guatemala among with 12 other Canadians to see the countryside. " I came, I saw, I cried". See Anna's article below.

San Marcos Sipakapa, Guatemala - an open pit mine, operated by local GCN, under contract with a Canadian Mining Company.  (Photo credits: Angelina Singson)

That's me and what would I change? A greenery in the background, but you already know I cannot. 

Mining companies dug hole in the ground, cut trees, poisoned the land, and left many villages in dis-array after mining operations have closed. Rivers, streams and lakes are struggling to keep its natural habitat restored due to pollution and toxic waste. Of course, mining companies always have a Sustainability department to clean up after their waste, but it is all short term. A tree planting here and there, a weekly clean up of the river does not cut it. Regeneration of a scarred slope does not happen in one year, it will take longer than that.
Climbing Pyramids built by the Lords of Tikal - Human Progress. Note that the people below me look like little dots. Lords of Tikal is a book written by Peter D. Harrision, I bought it at the bookstore in Guatemala and it very good historical, architectural and profound writings ever written on these pyramids.

 Let it be known that I am not against progress, I would not be typing in this very computer if I am. I will still be hunting in the woods and foraging when I can. I am with progress, and I love it. I love traveling and without progress, I have to sail on a boat for ages, to get to the other end of the world, instead of boarding a fancy B-747.  Thus, these progress has its cost. Companies will extract raw materials to create my computer parts, and so to provide metals for the plane I rode. So, why am I upset at mining companies who provided me with this very important resources, so my engineering buddies can build me this fancy plane?  Maybe, I am one of those hypocrites, or maybe there is an explanation to that.

Mining companies have bigger footprint and bigger mess to clean up. And I firmly believe that none of them are cleaning up their mess, simply because there is no nagging mother trying to yell at them to clean up. Every country that they have mining operations and and closed are left with bigger mess to clean up. They would only have small projects to do the clean up and it does very little repair the environmental  and cultural damage. For example, maybe a little patch of grass for a big scarred slope, few batches of seedlings for farmers misplace, and perhaps odd janitorial jobs offered to local folks.

This is where I am outrage, I personally think that they have a long term responsibility to repair the land, and they are not doing it. I WANT THEM RESPONSIBLE ENOUGH TO CLEAN IT UP, NO MATTER HOW LONG IT TAKES. And this is what angers me, they never did. Most clean ups are done in a very short period of time and rehabilitation project are very minimal. Now, tell me I am political and I'd say you are right. That is called freedom of speech!
The Canadian Team at Guatemela City Canadian Embassy.  With then/now former  Canadian Ambassador to Guatemala-Kenneth Cook (Photo Credits: Jared Hagel)

Here is a news release at Carleton University at one of my release interviews. I originally have the printed version of the paper Charlatan, and I saw the online version from the authors blog: Anna Maria Konewka

A look at Canadian mining in Guatemala


Coming back to Canada, we as a group,  toured churches, the group organized echo seminars at Carleton University and talk to anyone that would listen - from a grocery store clerk to our Members of the Parliament. We believe that it is a Canadian duty to clean up/restore lands and nature which were damage by Canadian Mining Companies. One of them who listened is Peter McKay and he authored Bill C-300. The bill hold a Mining company responsible for its clean up and land rehabilitation and the Canadian government/ or its department should be monitoring this.
For complete viewing of the document, both in English and French, here is the link:
Bill C-300, Mining Corporate Social Responsibility

We supported the Bill C-300 with all our heart. In fact, we went to the Parliament to express our support. I think my daughter was the youngest activist. Barely 3 months in a stroller? Or maybe the mother was an activist who cannot be stopped by motherhood duties.
May 2009. Development and Peace supporting Bill-C300 with Peter McKay. (Photo credits: Development and Peace)

The bill passed 2nd reading. We are all just hyper and excited. See MP John McKay's homepage below:
John McKay’s Bill C-300 on Corporate Accountability Passes 2nd Reading, Moves to Committee Stage

Of course, holding mining companies accountable to their actions is too much to ask. Canada is a mining country, and setting  a standard of Corporate Social Responsibility  seems too big of a task. A motion to make it Global CSR, so every country operating mines in the Philippines, Latin America and Africa is suggested to make it even uniform sounds a better alternative, yet also beyond Canadian politics. And of course, we have very huge profits on the mining industry. Just ask Mining Watch ( about the figures, and you will be blown away. And we cannot afford to be against the very industry that makes Canada a progressive county.

So, the Bill was defeated 140-134! Imagine that? Here are some writing about the defeat. (October 2010)

Defeat of responsible mining bill is missed opportunity - Globe and Mail 

Bill C-300: Narrow Defeat despite Widespread Support for Mining Accountability and Human Rights - Canadian Newswire
So, there it is, a simple concern of great Canadian Citizens calling for responsible mining and respect for human rights - went to Parliament Hill, supported, defeated, and never forgotten. Am I political for supporting such bill? Was Development and Peace as an organization political by supporting such bill?

Let us pretend that after the defeat, that  I hibernated for 2 years, and I wake up in 2012.
And I saw CIDA funding cuts recently. Why?

Here are some explanations why and various articles were compiled by McLeans Magazines.

'To the benefit of large corporations’

By  Aaron Wherry on Friday, January 20, 2012 11:55am
Source : Liberals are unimpressed with the Conservatives’ use of foreign aid funds.
“The Liberal Party supports the efforts of Canadian companies working abroad to fulfill their corporate social responsibilities. We also support those who have chosen to work with Canadian NGOs in meeting these responsibilities effectively. However, it is inappropriate for the Conservative government to use taxpayers’ money to fund these projects when the companies should be paying for these projects themselves. The Conservative government should be putting Canada’s precious foreign aid dollars to help alleviate poverty and not to the benefit of large corporations.”

There are more articles, like Bev Oda's explanations here:
Source: Oda defends CIDA’s partnerships with the private sector.
“I think if we can increase the capacity of any country to become a global trading partner, if they’ve got products Canadians need, we can import them and, if Canada has products they would like, Canada can export them.”
And Oda says she wants to see more partnerships between aid agencies and companies to help deliver Canadian aid around the world. “Our government is very much looking to increase its relationships with the private sector,” she said, adding that she would like to see such relationships between NGOs and corporations in manufacturing, agriculture and tourism, in addition to the extractive industry.

I am no political analyst, I am no economic analyst either and not a journalist by any chance. I am well educated enough to read, understand engineering equations and I understand how money works.

Money itself and the desire for more profits, undermines the value of natural resources, making it the first victim of such acts. The second victim is you and me, and third victim is  the future - maybe the species that will become extinct or human race in general.

And along my long rambling of stuff, maybe it is political statement to simply request for justice,  love and respect  for  human rights. Maybe? What do you think?

(All opinions written here are base on my own perspective: a mother, student, gardener, and community leader)

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