Students at the Student School voted unanimously this month to support a protest against Barrick Gold at their annual general meeting in downtown Toronto. The school, which is a Toronto District School board alternative secondary school, also plans to attend the protest to speak out against Barrick's abuses and explain why the school's student body decided to support the protest.
"The practices of the Canadian mining industry, in particular Barrick Gold, are appalling and unacceptable. This systemic, colonial destruction of communities and ecosystems must be stopped and those who profit from it held accountable," explained Carson Becker, a member of the school's Social Justice Committee.
"As students we cannot afford to ignore the blatant environmental and inhumane crimes Barrick Gold is inflicting on our world," said Andre Lopez, a Student Body representative and member of the school's "Green team". "We will be the ones who will be forced to deal with the scars this corrupt company will leave us."
Barrick has a record of environmental destruction, as well as well-documented human, labor and indigenous rights violations at their mines around the world. In the last year, the Toronto-based company has been forced to admit to gang rapes and killings at the hands of mine security at their mines in Tanzania and Papua New Guinea, which made mainstream headlines throughout Canada. Earlier this year, advocates who had visited Barrick's mines in Papua New Guinea, Tanzania, the U S. and Chile presented their documentation to the Social Justice Committee. They were later invited back to present to the entire Student Council, prompting the vote at the bi-weekly all-school meeting.
"Our school has a long tradition of working for social justice. That's one of the reasons I like working here and I think that our hope for a better world lies in our youth," explained Sara Gayman, a teacher at the school. "I'm proud of our student's striving for a more just and healthier world."
The student school is a secondary alternative school near Runnymede Station in Toronto. Operating since 1979, social justice values have been embedded in the curriculum of the school from the very beginning. The school will be hosting a regional high school conference on water issues this week on April 26.