Chief Arlen Dumas of the Mathias Colomb Cree Nation (MCCN) flew in from Manitoba to assert the rights of his community after Hudbay sued community members for hundreds of millions of dollars for holding peaceful gatherings at the Lalor Lake mine site. “Hudbay has been operating nearby for 80 years and has never consulted with us,” said Chief Dumas. Clayton Thomas-Muller, a member of the Pukatawagan CreeNation, also addressed the crowd. “Investing in disputed Indigenous Lands, not respecting communities’ Free, Prior and Informed Consent, trying to use the courts to suppress our Cree Nations’ sovereign right to say no, are all signalers that the board and CEO of Hudbay are both negligent and uninformed,” said Thomas-Muller. The MCCN has been served an injunction, making it illegal for their members to go on their own territory, which is now considered mining company property.
A determined group of supporters weathered the heavy rain outside, informing passers-by and holding signs, including “Death of our Land = Death of our Nation” and “Tailings Last Forever.” The Eagle Heart singers and drummers kicked off the gathering and continued to express their solidarity through song. Inside the lobby of the AGM venue (150 King St. West), activists released 300 balloons attached to a banner – reading “Hudbay Minerals, Corporate Criminals”- to express their message against Hudbay high up on the ceiling. Asked why she came to the protest, the Rev. Maggie Helwig, an Anglican priest said “Canadian mining companies are causing environmental havoc around the world. Hudbay is one of them.” In addition to denouncing the injustices faced by the MCCN, the demonstration also expressed concern over Hudbay’s behaviour in Guatemala, where the company’s security forces at their former mine raped, murdered and severely injured members of Mayan Q’eqchi’ communities in incidents in 2007 and 2009. These communities, who were peacefully defending their ancestral lands, are now seeking justice against Hudbay in Canadian courts. These ongoing cases represent the first time a lawsuit against a Canadian mining company over human rights atrocities abroad will be heard by a Canadian court. With regards to these cases around the world, Clayton Thomas-Muller stated that “these aggressive actions against the Mathias Colomb Cree and our relatives in the south shine a light on blatant mismanagement and the extremely high risk threatening Hudbay shareholder interests.”