Roundtable

#WeBelieveSurvivors of Barrick Gold

Toronto-based mining company Barrick Gold, whose abysmal record of human rights abuses and environmental degradation are documented at ProtestBarrick.net, is the largest gold mining company in the world. In April 2017, two women affected by Barrick’s Porgera Valley mine in Papua New Guinea visited Toronto to attend the company’s annual general meeting (agm). They came to speak directly to shareholders about sexual violence and murder in their community, to implicate mine employees and security, and to demand compensation and justice.

Everlyn Guape and Joycelyn Mandi of Porgera Women’s Rights Watch Association have been organizing around sexual violence perpetrated by Barrick as well as working in their communities to shift the legal and cultural barriers that prevent women from sharing their stories of sexual violence. Everlyn and Joycelyn were interviewed by Ellie Ade Kur (co-founder of Silence Is Violence, an organization that aims to radically alter the culture of institutional violence on university campuses across Canada), for the program #WeAreUofT on ciut 89.5fm in November of 2017.1 They invited Sakura Saunders of ProtestBarrick.net and Mining Injustice Solidarity Network and Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada to join the conversation and help connect their experiences at home with the University of Toronto, Peter Munk, and Canadian politics.

After the interview, Joycelyn and Everlyn attended Barrick Gold’s agm, but their applications to speak as proxies were denied. Instead, they had Catherine Coumans read their statements as they stood next to her. Security tried to push them to the back of the room, to prevent them from sitting near Catherine, but this strategy of silencing these survivors backfired as media covered the incident.2

Today, we are talking about Toronto-based mining company Barrick Gold. It is the largest gold mining company in the world, founded by University of Toronto alumni Peter Munk, whose name appears on the university’s School of Global Affairs.

We’ve got incredible women in studio from the company’s mines in Papua New Guinea here to discuss their organizing around sexual violence at the hands of Barrick employees and mine security, as well as their work in their communities, from gaslighting tactics to the legal and cultural barriers that prevent women from sharing their stories of sexual violence.

Today, we’re looking at the forces that silence victims of abuse and the courageous women who have self-organized with other survivors to tell their stories and demand accountability.

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