MiningWatch Canada held its Annual General Meeting (only our second) in Sudbury, March 2nd and 3rd.
The meeting started with a forum to discuss the recently-ended Falconbridge strike, involving representatives of CAW/Mine Mill Local 598 as well as various community organizations. Key elements of the discussion included the effects of Falconbridge's acquisition by Noranda/Brascan, and the use of ore from the Raglan mine to help scab the strike and keep the smelter running. The global reach of the company contrasted with the strong community support that enabled the union to survive the strike.
The following day, after a short and efficient business meeting, about three dozen people (including MiningWatch members and directors) took part in workshops on Mining and Health. The speakers at the morning session were Chief Earl Commanda of the Serpent River First Nation and Dr. David Leadbeater of the Elliot Lake Tracking Study, on the theme "For Better or Worse: Mining, Communities and the Multinationals". They talked about their experience in mining communities and the communities relationships to the multinationals which shadow and shape them, as well as relationships within the community itself, exploring themes of power, powerlessness and power-sharing.
The afternoon's session, entitled "Watchful Eyes and Willing Hands: Mine Monitoring on the Front Lines" included presentations by the Steelworkers Nancy Hutchinson on the "Internal Responsibilty System" that is being implemented in Ontario mines, and her hopes that it will not fail, as a similar system did at Westray; by Sarah Johnnie and Vera Sterriah on community monitoring in Ross River and Little Salmon Carmacks, Yukon; and by Lorilee McGregor of the EAGLE project on working with First Nations around the Great Lakes on monitoring and fish consumption awareness.
Discussion on these topics was frank and energetic, leaving participants feeling better informed and better prepared to continue their work in their communities.