1) We understand Canada as a racist, settler, colonial state/society.
The United for Mining Justice Network has been challenged by Indigenous Peoples to acknowledge that Canada was founded on colonial violence and the domination of Indigenous Peoples, often designed to obtain access to valuable natural resources, including minerals and metals. Canadian companies’ contemporary involvement in mining in countries of the Global South, home to many partner organizations of The United Church of Canada, parallels the way in which resource-rich lands in Canada were and often continue to be acquired without obtaining the consent of indigenous peoples. Whether in Canada or around the world, this results in impoverishment, negative cultural, social and health impacts, community conflict and violence, and alienation from the land which is the basis of indigenous life and spirituality
Many of us in United for Mining Justice are settler Canadians who benefit from these processes. We need to confront this painful and challenging reality. We acknowledge that most often white settlers benefit more than settlers of colour, and middle/upper class settlers benefit more than poor/low income settlers. We are called to decolonize our racist minds, hearts and spiritual practices and seek more faithful ways of expressing Christian spirituality that honour the Creator, Mother Earth, and all our relations.
We draw attention to Section #48 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s call to the churches to adopt and comply with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP.) The United Church has adopted this recommendation, noting the rights to self-determination, cultural and spiritual identity, participation in decision-making, lands and resources and freedom from discrimination, all of which impact the practices of Canadian mining companies. In particular, we call attention to Articles 26 and 32 of UNDRIP which require the Free, Prior and Informed Consent of mining-affected indigenous communities before carrying out exploration and extraction.
2) We understand the mining industry as part of a globalized economy shaped by free market, corporate-driven capitalism where the rights of corporations and the drive to profits outweigh ethical considerations including negative environmental, social, cultural and health impacts and the right to free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples. We challenge the manner in which global mining operates in Canada and around the world. At the same time, we recognize that, to varying degrees, we benefit from mining. Mining investments held through Canadian banks, government agencies and private pension plans, including the United Church Pension Plan, directly or indirectly secure the livelihoods and retirement of the majority of Canadians, including United Church of Canada members and employees. As people of faith, we challenge ourselves to engage in lifestyles and actions that reflect our values and to resist the values and actions of free-market, corporate-driven capitalism.
We focus on the TRC Call to Action #92, which calls on the corporate sector to “adopt UNDRIP, and apply its principles, norms and standards to corporate policy and core operational activities involving indigenous peoples and their lands and resources.” This includes “companies' commitment to meaningful consultation, building respectful relationships, and obtaining the free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous peoples before proceeding with economic development projects."