SFU under fire for accepting $10 million from Goldcorp
A Vancouver community worker and artist says she wants Simon Fraser University to return a $10-million donation from a Vancouver-based mining company.
Sara Kendall told the Straight by phone that she's "starting to see e-mails fly back and forth" about the gift from Goldcorp, which has been criticized for its mining activities in Latin America.
On September 23, SFU announced that Goldcorp contributed $5 million to SFU's capital campaign and another $5 million in the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts Community Endowment, which will finance community-engagement programs in the Downtown Eastside.
SFU has named its new arts facility in the Woodward's complex the "Goldcorp Centre for the Arts".
"It's a totally incompatible move on their part," Kendall said of SFU's decision. "I would like to see it rejected. I would like to see them retract their acceptance of the $10 mil."
She added that she hopes to arrange a conversation over Skype between journalists and community members in areas mined by Goldcorp. and senior SFU officials, including the president, Andrew Petter.
"We'll do community action if that's necessary—if they're super-unreceptive," Kendall said. "But before I organize a rally, I would rather have that conversation."
In 2008, some shareholders demanded that Goldcorp finance an independent human-rights assessment of its activities at the Marlin Mine in Guatemala.
In May, On Common Ground Consultants released its report, which came after 189 individual interviews, nine group interviews, and 10 focus groups, as well as a review of hundreds of company documents.
It found that Goldcorp and its wholly owned Guatemalan subsidiary "need to address human rights explicitly, comprehensively, and as a matter of ongoing due diligence".
The Guatemalan subsidiary failed to acknowledge the Sipakepense residents as a distinct indigenous people, according to the report. Moreover, there was no comprehensive human rights policy at the mine, and the subsidiary fired staff who tried to form a union.
In its written response, Goldcorp committed to integrating respect for human rights into its business-management processes throughout the company.
Kendall also pointed out that in the past, Goldcorp filed a NAFTA challenge under Chapter 11, which deals with investors' rights, against the California and U.S. governments' regulations concerning hard-rock mining.
The company hoped to develop a mine on land that was considered sacred by the Quechan indigenous people. In 2009, a NAFTA tribunal dismissed Goldcorp's arguments.