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fredericton 12/09/2016 - 09:33AM

Arizona director brings film about Canadian mining company, HudBay, to Fredericton

First time documentary director, John Dougherty, joined the Cinema Politica Fredericton crew for their first film of the season on Sept. 9th, 2016, to show his film, “Flin Flon Flim Flam.”

The film’s enigmatic title makes reference to the Manitoba city of Flin Flon, founded by the Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting company (as HudBay was known at the time), and the swindle (“flim flam”) done by the company in so many places. In the film, Dougherty takes us from Manitoba to Guatemala and Peru to denounce the human rights and environmental abuses of the company that is now trying to implant itself in his home state of Arizona.

HudBay is planning to build the Rosemont open-pit copper mine in the Santa Rita Mountains on the Coronado National Forest, southeast of Tucson, Arizona. Environmental issues are the chief concern since the park is home to rare natural springs and the last known living jaguar in the U.S., among other endangered animal species. It is also a sacred Indigenous space for the Tohono O’odham Nation.

As the film describes, this new mine would be as disastrous as the copper and zine mine on indigenous Mathias Colomb Cree territory in Manitoba, the Constancia copper mine in Cusco, Peru and the Fenix nickel mine in El Estor, Guatemala. The disastrous conditions brought on and left behind by the company are framed by repeated quotes by the HudBay CEO: “In everything we do, we are responsible.”

Dougherty recently finished a 17-city tour across Canada, from Montreal to Vancouver Island. The mostly print award-winning journalist is with InvestigativeMEDIA (www.investigativemedia.com/) and worked for almost twenty years at an Arizona weekly.

Lisa Rankin, a coordinator with the Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network, also came to Fredericton from Cape Breton for the film. Rankin is intimately familiar with the region of Guatemala that Dougherty’s film covered and the abuses of the mining company in the region.

Angelica Choc's story was featured in the documentary. Many Cinema Politica Fredericton film goers had the opportunity to meet Angelica when Breaking the Silence organized a tour with the Maya Q'eqhi grandmother, in November 2014. Cinema Politica Fredericton screened the film, Defensora, with Angelica in attendance and to a standing room only audience. The film covers her fight for justice for the murder of her husband, Adolfo Ich, by a HudBay security guard. The pursuit for justice has taken Angelica to Canada where she is party of a historic lawsuit that seeks to get some remedy for crimes committed by a subsidiary of a Canadian company abroad. Her struggle for justice, recently the subject of a New York Times front page story, includes her neighbour German Chub, who was left paralyzed when he was shot by a HudBay's security guard on the same day that Angelica's husband was shot and hacked with a machete. The lawsuit also includes eleven women who say they were raped by the previous mine owner's security forces enforcing an eviction for the mine.

Lisa Rankin encouraged the audience to check out the Open for Justice campaign (openforjustice.ca) and told film goers to expect draft legislation this week or next regarding the creation of an ombudsman office to take in complaints of communities harmed by a Canadian mining operations abroad. The bill will be proposed by Liberal MP John McKay who proposed a similar one, Bill C-300, back in 2010. Bill C-300 was voted down by a majority of Members of Parliament.

The film screening was followed by a thought-provoking discussion about aspects of the structural context that allow the mining company to go forward with projects in so many places and about what can be done.

Dougherty highlighed the work of Alain Deneault, who was in Fredericton for the NB Media Co-op's Annual General Meeting in the fall of 2015 to talk about his work on tax avoidance and tax havens. Dougherty referenced Deneault's book, Imperial Canada, that exposes how mining corporations use Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP) to stop negative comments about their corporations. Deneault and the co-authors of his book, Noir Canada, Delphine Abadie and William Sacher, and Écosociété, the small publisher of the book based in Quebec, were sued by Barrick Gold in 2008, effectively putting an end to the publication of the book that uncovered ugly truths about Barrick and other Canadian mining companies' practices in Africa.

An audience member, Marzipan Trahms, encouraged everyone to support the adoption and implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. She noted that NDP MP and Critic for Intergovernmental Aboriginal Affairs, Romeo Saganash, was recently in Saint Mary's First Nation to discuss the campaign, Adopt and Implement, at: http://www.adoptandimplement.com/

For Dougherty, grassroots political change is the way to impede projects that do not have the consent of the local peoples or are too risky in a time of climate change.

Cinema Politica Fredericton often partners with Breaking the Silence on films about Guatemala. Most of the recent work done by Breaking the Silence involves supporting the survivors of the country's genocide and civil war, working with organizations committed to ending gender violence and femicide and supporting struggles in defense of indigenous territory and food sovereignty. Money raised at Friday's screening went to support the work of Breaking the Silence.

The audience was very appreciative of Dougherty’s presence in Fredericton and promised to share his film, which is available online at: https://youtu.be/j7aacPtEI8s

 

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