Miriam Varga stands in front of the grave that was broken open to remove her late husband. Varga didn't give permission for her husband to be removed and is fighting to keep her late son, who is also buried at the cemetery in Azacualpa, where he is. Photo: Jackie McVicar
Horrific human rights abuses that takes advantage of the current unstable sociopolitical context in Honduras, and vulnerability of the Honduran people,
is a disgrace in the highest regard.
February 26, 2018
The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister of Canada
The Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations & Northern Affairs
National Chief Perry Bellegarde
Assembly of First Nations
Dear Prime Minister Justin Trudeau,
As a youth alliance in Eastern Wabanaki traditional lands, we are incensed to learn of the destruction of traditional Indigenous homelands and, specifically, the desecration of sacred burial sites in Honduras. These unjust acts have been committed by Minosa Aura Minerals (a Toronto-based Canadian mining company) and are in direct violation of several Articles contained in the United Nations Declarations of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), including:
10. Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their lands or territories. No relocation shall take place without the free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous peoples concerned and after agreement on just and fair compensation and, where possible, with the option of return.
11.1. Indigenous peoples have the right to practise and revitalize their cultural traditions and customs. This includes the right to maintain, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures, such as archaeological and historical sites, artefacts, designs, ceremonies, technologies and visual and performing arts and literature.
12.1. Indigenous peoples have the right to manifest, practise, develop and teach their spiritual and religious traditions, customs and ceremonies; the right to maintain, protect, and have access in privacy to their religious and cultural sites; the right to the use and control of their ceremonial objects; and the right to the repatriation of their human remains.
12.2. States shall seek to enable the access and/or repatriation of ceremonial objects and human remains in their possession through fair, transparent and effective mechanisms developed in conjunction with indigenous peoples concerned.
17.2. States shall in consultation and cooperation with indigenous peoples take specific measures to protect indigenous children from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education, or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development, taking into account their special vulnerability and the importance of education for their empowerment.
Additionally, we have found these actions to contravene the company’s own corporate responsibilities, available to the public domain at http://www.auraminerals.com/
Protect the environment and the health and safety of people
Value honesty and integrity
Promote open communication and transparency
Strive to continuously improve corporate responsibility practices
Looking on at the graves that have been robbed of loved ones in Azacualpa, Honduras. Photo: Jackie McVicar
The Government of Canada claims a commitment to improving relations with Indigenous peoples. Notably, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada declares: “Canada has committed to a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous peoples based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership, and rooted in the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples” (https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/). Supported by UNDRIP, we assert that truth and reconciliation has no borders. The Indigenous peoples in Honduras are our direct relations and we strongly condemn these inhumane mining practices. Having lived in their traditional homelands since time immemorial, this company continues to violate their inherent rights and stewardship practices over their lands. This will undoubtedly impact their future generations to come. We view this as a replication of draconian colonial processes that are destructive to Indigenous and non-Indigenous people alike.
A recently exhumed grave is marked with a stick and number. Beside it, another tomb that may be dug up to get at the gold underneath. Photo: Jackie McVicar
The desecration of ancestral burial sites is an act of genocide and reflective of the intent of policies in Canada such as the Indian residential school system, the sixties scoop, and the Indian agent/pass system, to erase Indigenous peoples. Horrific human rights abuses that takes advantage of the current unstable sociopolitical context in Honduras, and vulnerability of the Honduran people, is a disgrace in the highest regard. These actions will not be tolerated among Indigenous alliances at national or international levels.
At present, we seek an immediate response with the intent to remediate these harms inflicted upon the Honduran people.
The Peace and Friendship Youth Alliance in Eastern Wabanaki Territory
United for Mining Justice #SisterStreams Participants
For further information: