Tuesday, 1 December 2015

On Hiatus

The Just Living Blog is on hiatus, giving the group a chance to assess its purpose.  If you have dropped by (even occasionally) to read posts or keep track of events, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.  Your contribution will assist the group in determining what role the blog has, or may have.  Thank you.

Monday, 30 November 2015

Short Answers to Hard Questions About Climate Change

This from the NY Times:

"The issue can be overwhelming. The science is complicated. Predictions about the fate of the planet carry endless caveats and asterisks. 
We get it. 
And so, as the Paris climate talks get underway, we’ve provided quick answers to often-asked questions about climate change.

You can find the twelve questions and answers by clicking here.

-submitted by Gareth

Monday, 2 November 2015

Amazing Book List

Go to this link to find an amazing book list focused on "Being an Ally and Understanding Colonialism", compiled by Tessa Blaikie Whitecloud of 1JustCity.

"Just" Christmas, Nov 15

The 2015, 8th annual event will take place on NOVEMBER 15TH from 1-3:30 at
     Gordon-King Memorial United Church, 127 Cobourg Avenue in East Kildonan.
You’re welcome to come get your Christmas shopping done in Just one Place all for Just causes and with Justice focused organizations. 
Check out all the vendors! Including us at 1JustCity and watch for our catalogue online soon!

Monday, 7 September 2015

Refugees Welcome Rally at Wpg City Hall

On Sunday, Sept 6, many gathered at City Hall to call for the opening of our doors to refugees.  Here are some pictures.
Raging Grannies

Pillows with messages:  Refugees Welcome and We Have Room

Group listening to member of Winnipeg's Syrian community

Refugee from Iran, who came at age 15 with Grade 2 education, now a law student at U of M

Noelle DePappe, who works withe refugees in Winnipeg

Candle-light vigil

Contemplative moment during vigil

Posted by Kathleen and Gareth

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Crude Awakenings

Darren Dochuk, Associate Professor in the Department of History at the University of Notre Dame
Oil has always enchanted Americans, and inspired them to think about their society’s future in sacred terms. Extracted from the earth in mysterious ways, often with the help of spiritualist devices and prayer, oil was at its origins imagined as the divinely sanctioned lifeblood of a modernizing nation. America’s powerbrokers and rank-and-file together ascribed a special status to this abundant material, and in turn used its wealth to construct and legitimate imposing corporate and church institutions, missionary organizations, and an expansive petro-state. Indeed, the concept of the “American Century,” commonly used to describe this nation’s hundred-year ascendancy, is itself a product of petroleum and religion’s arresting reciprocity. When missionary son and magazine publisher Henry Luce coined the term in 1941, he did so fully aware of how his fellow citizens drew special assurance from oil’s seemingly divine potentials, and attached them to a politics of exceptionalism. Luce also knew that as much as oil was America’s blessing and the source of its leadership in the world, it was also a burden that came with costs to the nation and its people, and the land they inhabited. 
Following Luce’s lead, but with an eye to wider and longer trends, and a continental terrain centered by the United States but also encompassing Canada, these lectures will explore some of the ways that religion and oil together shaped existence for modern North Americans at the moment of their heightening authority in the twentieth century. It will pay particular attention to evangelical Protestants who, in disproportionate degrees, inhabited and worked America’s oil patches, weathered the violent disruptions of life on these boom-bust terrains, and theologized and politicized their encounter with soil and its subsurface wealth and all that this seemed to promise them, on earth and in heaven. 
Posted by Gareth

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Churches for Freedom Road

Augustine United Church has joined many other churches in using their signs to call for justice for the Shoal Lake 40 First Nation.  This is part of a larger effort to apply pressure on the federal government to build an all-season access road, so that Shoal Lake's 17 year boiled water advisory can be lifted.  Go to their website for more information.

I'm a little disappointed that the initiative is being called "Churches" for Freedom Road, since I'd heard early on that there was interest from mosques, synagogues and temples to participate in this call for justice.  Not sure what happened to that.  As it stands, it would be unlikely for some of these other faith communities to join up, given the name of the initiative.  

- Submitted by Gareth

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Truth and Reconciliation is Canada’s last chance to get it right

By John Ralston Saul
Special to The Globe and Mail

Monday, 18 May 2015

Canada's Shameful Exports

Fifty years of bloody conflict, economic greed, and environmental devastation

Sojourners Magazine, May 2015
By Emilie Teresa Smith

This article examines horrendous Canadian mining practises in Guatemala, the Philippines, Chile, Argentina, Paua New Guinea, Tanzania, D.R. Congo, El Salvador. 

CANADIAN MINING companies have left a trail of destruction around the world—mostly in places where people are poor and vulnerable.
The earliest conflicts caused by Canadian mining exploded in Guatemala in the early 1960s when the nickel company Inco dug into the northern mountainside of Guatemala’s largest freshwater lake, Lago Izabal. Almost 155 square miles of traditional Kekchi-Maya land was expropriated to create Inco’s Exmibal mine. As the region descended into bitter war, Guatemalan oligarchs and their military, with the support of Canadian-mining and U.S. geopolitical interests, exterminated all popular dissent. Dozens of Kekchi leaders were killed or disappeared; four prominent leaders who had published a report condemning the Inco-Exmibal deals were brutally assaulted and two of them assassinated. The Exmibal mine operated for three years before Inco abandoned it, never paying a nickel in royalties to Guatemala.

Image Source:  UC Observer
Meanwhile, in the Philippines, Vancouver-based Placer Dome arrived on Marinduque Island and sunk in a filthy copper mine. Over the next three decades, Placer Dome operated the Marcopper mine, devastating the local environment and its communities. From 1975 to 1991, Placer Dome dumped 200 metric tons of toxic waste into Calancan Bay, and in March 1996 a massive rupture from the tailings pond flooded 60 villages with toxic waste, permanently destroying community lands, rice fields, and shrimp marshes. The Boac River was declared dead, and the U.N. pronounced it a major environmental disaster. The entire Marcopper mine project was abandoned; no major attempt at clean-up ever took place. In 2006, Placer Dome was taken over by the giant, Toronto-based Barrick Gold, one of the world’s largest mining companies. In 2008, the provincial government of Marinduque began a lawsuit, but Barrick has fussed and delayed, dragging the court case on endlessly.
Barrick is also responsible for the massive $8.5 billion boondoggle of the Pascua Lama gold mine. Saddled in the Andes between Chile and Argentina,the mine threatens to blow up hundreds of glaciers and drastically impact the Atacama Desert—one of the driest regions of the world. In response to the long-ignored concerns of Diaguita Indigenous communities and others, the Chilean government eventually suspended Barrick’s license, but glaciologists report that the pre-mining activity has already wreaked irreversible destruction in the area.
Papua New Guinea hosts the massive Barrick Porgera mine, built right on top of local Ipili communities; multiple claims of grave human rights violations have been reported. Bought-off police and mining company security guards have been accused of murder, beatings, home burnings, and gang rape. The former chair of Barrick, Peter Munk, was quoted in a Canadian newspaper in 2011 that “gang rape is a cultural habit [of the traditional people of Papua New Guinea]. Of course, you can’t say that because it’s politically incorrect.”
Horrendous violence has also been reported at Barrick’s mine in Tanzania. And shadows of the same story emerge inD.R. Congo: Security guards for Montreal’s Anvil mines have been accused of providing cover for government soldiers engaging in the massacre of civilians. In El Salvador, Vancouver’s Pacific Rim (now OceanaGold) sued the Salvadoran government, claiming that the country violated international trade law by refusing to allow the company to dig a massive gold mine that would have drastically polluted the country’s thin water supplies. Four community activists of the Cabañas region, where the project was to go in, have been murdered, including Dora Alicia Recinos, who was eight months pregnant when she was shot dead.

The common denominators in these countries and elsewhere are corrupt local officials with ready access to people-controlling violence—a perfect environment for Canadian mining. The low-paying jobs, taxes, royalties, and other economic gains in the short term in no way compensate for permanent environmental devastation and community conflict inevitably caused by mining.

- Submitted by Gareth

Oh, Canada!

Canadians are supposed to be the good guys in the story. Well, not anymore.

Sojourners - May 2015
by Emilie Teresa Smith

DOÑA DIODORA STANDS on the side of the mountain, shivering. She’s tending to her skinny cows. A simple adobe hut stands here on the edge of her land in the Guatemalan highlands—“so I can stay and look after the animals,” she says. “But I don’t know what I am going to do about water. They’ve taken away the water.”

Tears drip down out of her good eye. She dries them on a thin sleeve. The other eye socket, shattered where the bullet went through, seeps with yellow pus. “Me siento un poco triste—a little sad,” she explains in her halting, quiet Spanish. It is cold on the mountain, achingly so. And, mysteriously, the water has gone: Old streams and wells are dusty. The cows look ill.

Photo Source:  Sojourners Magazine

Just down the crumbling mountain, the tailings pond from the Marlin mine glows a weird shade of neon green.
I first heard about the Marlin mine—operated by Vancouver’s Goldcorp—in 2005, before it opened. That year I was going to Guatemala with a youth group from my diocese, and we were warned: Don’t wear anything that identifies you as Canadians. What? Canadians? We’re supposed to be the good guys in the story. Well, not anymore.

The great global economic shift in the mid-1990s, a free-for-all (if you were already rich) of unbridled neo-liberal capitalism, unleashed an invigorated predatory wave of miners—from Canada—all around the planet to sniff out new places to dig. Canada is the place to raise venture mining capital—the heaps of cash needed to fund these monstrously expensive projects.

Canada has few laws or functioning regulations to control investments or protect human rights and the environment far from our shores. Thus it’s not surprising that 75 percent of international mining companies are registered in Canada and 60 percent are listed on Canadian stock exchanges. In Latin America alone there are around 1,500 mining projects, involving 230 Canadian companies.
Mining Watch, Canada’s top mining observer, has documented that 90 of these companies are involved in 200 conflicts. The main points of contention are water contamination and drastic depletion, land expropriation and devastation, and the lack of community consultation.
Local populations have massively rejected these exploitative practices. They have seen it all before: Promises of jobs, money, and progress, followed by the realities of shattered lives and never-cleaned-up toxic waste. Doña Diodora was shot by midnight strangers at her door, after she openly resisted the Marlin mine for more than five years, refusing to sell her land and refusing to shut up.
I have seen these often-deadly clashes in the flesh—in Guatemala, where I have lived off and on for many years, and then up and down the spine of Latin America. In 2012, I was elected co-president of a historic network of liberation theologians and practitioners that formed in the aftermath of the martyrdom of Archbishop Oscar Romero. In that capacity I have visited El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Argentina, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. In each country, as I stepped off the plane, community leaders came to me wanting to talk about the conflicts around Canadian mining in their country. Walls sprayed with graffiti presented me time and again with the unhappy message: “Mineras canadienses—OUT!”
Providing shelter for industry
Meanwhile, back in Canada, there have been numerous attempts to create control mechanisms for mining behavior. They have all met with obfuscation and obstruction. In 2009, a private members bill (Bill C 300, for Corporate Accountability for the Activities of Mining in Developing Countries) was brought to the Canadian parliament. Mining companies rushed to fund and organize some of the most intense lobbying ever seen in Ottawa. The bill was defeated.
The government of Canada, especially under the nine-year reign of ultraconservative Stephen Harper, has dedicated itself to the promotion of mining companies around the world. While community, environmental, and religious groups have rallied on every front, both in Canada and in the ravaged countries where the mines are going in, the Canadian government has showered resources—diplomatic, legal, and economic—to shelter industry.
The only government response to growing demands for mandatory controls on mining companies has been the creation of a toothless Office of the Extractive Sector Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Counsellor. The office, set up “to assist stakeholders in the resolution of CSR issues pertaining to the activities of Canadian extractive sector companies abroad,” has seen four cases in the five years since its creation—and not a single conflict has been resolved, not even remotely. The complaint and review process is completely voluntary on the part of industry; in all of the cases brought forward, the company has simply refused to participate. The Counsellor office has operated as a screen to greenwash the hopelessly destructive practice of modern mining.
Canadian nongovernmental organizations pushing to hold mining companies accountable (such as the Catholic group Development and Peace and the ecumenical Kairos Canada) have had their government funding slashed. Other NGOs (such as World Vision-Canada and Plan Canada) have accepted more than $6.5 million—of Canadian taxpayers’ money—to in effect run the companies’ CSR programs and, in the process, help to pacify local resistance movements around the world.
Most Canadian citizens are blithely unaware of what is happening in our name. We have bought into the idea that what is wrong in the world is “underdevelopment,” not rampant greed on the part of an ever-decreasing minority. In the “mercantile cosmology,” where the whole world is for sale and nothing is worth anything if it isn’t marketable, international mining blasts a “win-win” rhetoric that carries the day.
A stroll around Toronto or Vancouver reveals the depth to which mining enterprises—while sabotaging mandatory regulations—have purchased the consent of the Canadian public. In British Columbia, for example, Goldcorp nestles its money and its name into the Vancouver Opera Society, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Aquarium, the Tap Society, Science World, Bard-on-the-Beach, Arts Umbrella, Big Brothers, YMCA, the Nature Trust of British Columbia, the Special Olympics, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Goldcorp Mental Health Centre, every major Vancouver hospital, Simon Fraser University, and the University of British Columbia. Community, health, education, and arts institutions—in desperate straits due to drastic funding cutbacks—are anxious to take the money. Goldcorp acts as a “good corporate citizen,” and Canadians nod in agreement.
Another way citizens are enmeshed—often without knowing—in controversial international mining projects is through deep ties between industry and pension plans. The national government Canada Pension Plan, to which every working Canadian makes monthly contributions, is one of the largest group investors in Goldcorp. Trade union, teacher, and other public servant union pension plans are not far behind, holding heavy investments in numerous mining corporations. Even churches have their fingers in this sticky, money-making pie.
Resisting the onslaught
Around the world (see “Canada’s Shameful Exports,” previous page), open—and costly—resistance to massive mining projects has arisen since the beginning of the Canadian invasions. While industry appears to have every advantage on its side, determined individuals and groups have created strategic campaigns in defense of their territories.
In Guatemala, Mayan communities have launched dozens of public consultations, availing themselves of both traditional decision-making models and international agreements. They have vigorously applied Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization’s code on the rights of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples. In more than 85 communities, upwards of 1 million Guatemalan citizens have studied, debated, and finally voted on whether or not to accept extractive industries in their territory. Their resounding answer: No.
There has been a rising tide of organized defense of territory by communities across Canada as well. About 200 miles from where I live, there is a sacred lake, known to the Tsilhqot’in people as Teztan Biny and to English speakers as Fish Lake. It is home to 85,000 rainbow trout. Vancouver-based Taseko Mines crafted a plan to use Teztan Biny as a tailings pond, to hold the dirty water from their proposed “Prosperity Mine.” The Tsilhqot’in people and their supporters were having none of it. They organized a years-long campaign of study and defense and, finally, in February 2014 the project was rejected by the federal minister of the environment.
The resistance of the Tsilhqot’in people was a prophetic act: Six months after the federal decision, the holding wall of the Mount Polley Mine tailings pond—only 82 miles from Teztan Biny—ruptured. In the biggest mine spill in Canadian history, waste water and toxic sludge burst out, destroying Hazeltine Creek and pouring into the deep, pristine Lake Quesnel.
It isn’t surprising that the struggle to protect the earth has been taken up by Indigenous communities and others who live close to the soil—and the cycle of creation, growth, and decay upon which it depends. Motivated by a deep love for the land, these communities have supplied a critical challenge to the dominant story that progress and right-living necessarily depend on the destruction of creation.
Theirs is a loud proclamation of a different truth: The Earth is not a thing to be bought, sold, used, and destroyed. Our eternal connection to the dust is that we are dust. We are not the Creator, but frail creatures, utterly dependent on the care of the Earth, her mountains, her water, streams, and deepness underground. As the psalmist reminds us, the Earth is not ours, but God’s; we live with tender mercy and grace upon her abundant belly. 
Emilie Teresa Smith, an Argentine-Canadian Anglican priest, is co-president of the Oscar Romero International Network in Solidarity with the Peoples of Latin America. She is working on a book about Canadian mining companies in Guatemala.
- Submitted by Gareth

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Orientation on No Energy East Campaign by Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition

Join us and learn how you can stop the energy east pipeline and stop the tar sands.

This is an orientation session for people interested in joining or volunteering with MEJC.

This event is taking place in St Norbert because it is ground zero for the risks of ruptures in Winnipeg. 

Agenda will include:
History of the Group.
Pipeline 101
How to get involved in MEJC.

St. Norbert Community Centre, 3450 Pembina Hwy.
Sunday, April 26, 1-3 p.m.

For more information:

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

"Boycott Driscoll's berries!" - Farmworkers

From Treehugger.com
Until their employer agrees to negotiate fairly, farmworkers in Washington state want consumers to avoid all Driscoll's, Häagen-Dazs and Yoplait products that contain berries grown on the notorious Sakuma Brothers farm.
Farm workers in Washington state are fighting for fairer pay and better treatment, and they need support from consumers. These workers, who pick strawberries for the notorious Sakuma Brothers Berry Farm, have been subjected to a wide range of abuses for years, such as inadequate piece rates, systematic wage theft, racist and sexist abuse from supervisors, substandard housing, and continuous retaliation for their efforts to improve conditions.
The Sakuma Brothers berry farm, located in Burlington, WA, supplies strawberries to Driscoll’s, a familiar label to many consumers. Even here in faraway, still-wintry Ontario, Driscoll’s is the only brand of fresh strawberries available year-round at my local grocery store. Sakuma also sells berries to Häagen-Dazs and Yoplait.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Introducing the "On Being" Blog

"On Being" blog 
Hosted by Krista TippettThe Inner Life of Rebellion
With Parker Palmer and Courtney Martin (January 8, 2015)
The history of rebellion is rife with excess and burnout. But new generations have a distinctive commitment to be reflective and activist at once, to be in service as much as in charge, and to learn from history while bringing very new realities into being. Journalist and entrepreneur Courtney Martin and Quaker wise man Parker Palmer come together for a cross-generational conversation about the inner work of sustainable, resilient social change.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Jane Goodall, U of Wpg, Sept 11

Jane Goodall to speak as part of U of W lecture series

Goodall’s work at the Gombe Stream Chimpanzee Reserve became the foundation of contemporary primatological research, effectively redefining the relationship between humans and animals. In 1977, Goodall established the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), which supports programs for research, education, community development, and conservation, U of W officials saidWorld-renowned primatologist Jane Goodall will speak at the University of Winnipeg Sept. 11.Goodall will be the second speaker in The Axworthy Distinguished Lecturer Series on Social Justice and the Public Good. Her lecture on at 7 p.m. will be free and open to the public.

She will also address the U of W community in conjunction with the Fall Institute, "Humanity, Animality, Secularity." The Institute will offer a special three-credit hour course on ecology in a secular world.

The first lecture in this new series will bring distinguished public intellectual Prof. Cornel West to campus on May 8, best known for his classics Race Matters and Democracy Matters, and his new memoir, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud.

The Axworthy Distinguished Lecture Series on Social Justice and the Public Good was established to honour Lloyd Axworthy, U of W president from 2004-14.

May 8 - "Public Religion in a Secular World" - Cornel West at U of Winnipeg

The inaugural Axworthy Lecturer is Dr. Cornel West, on May 8th, 2015 and will coincide with the spring institute “Public Religion in a Secular World”. The lectures are free and open to the public.

More Info:

Dr. West is a prominent and provocative democratic intellectual and civil rights activist. He is the Class of 1943 University Professor at Princeton University and has taught at Union Theological Seminary, Yale, Harvard and the University of Paris. He has written 19 and edited 13 books. West is best known for his classic Race Matters, Democracy Matters, and his new memoir, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud. He appears frequently on Real Time with Bill Maher, The Colbert Report, CNN, C-Span, and PBS. He can be heard weekly with Tavis Smiley on “Smiley & West”, the national public radio program distributed by Public Radio International. Along with Smiley, Dr. West participates in the “Poverty Tour”, traveling across the U.S to libraries, non-profits and corporations, and colleges and universities, and religious institutions, to discuss why now is the time to make poverty a priority in America.

He has appeared in over 25 films (including The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions) and documentaries (including Examined Life, Call & Response, Sidewalk and Stand). He has made three spoken word albums including Never Forget, collaborating with Prince, Jill Scott, Andre 3000, Talib Kweli, KRS-One and the late Gerald Levert. In short, West has a passion to communicate to a vast variety of publics in order to keep alive the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. – a legacy of telling the truth and bearing witness to love, civil rights and social justice.

This year’s Lectureship is sponsored by a generous gift from Dr. Jim Burns. Please visit The University of Winnipeg Foundation’s for information on this new crowdfunding initiative.