Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 13, 2000
CCODP urges corporate responsibility
Fall Action campaign challenges Canadian gov't involvement in Columbian dam
By GEORGINA LAWRENCE
Special to the WCR
This year, the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace has introduced a new three-year program that focuses on caring for the earth and for humanity.
The slogan for the new program is, The Earth Is For All, Not For Sale.
Development and Peace partners in the South have asked for our support and in cooperation with Ten Days For Global Justice and the Canadian Ecumenical Initiative, Development and Peace has launched the Fall Education and Action program.
The education portion of the program focuses on the work of Canadian corporations abroad and on the role and actions of the Export Development Corporation, a Crown corporation funded by taxpayers' dollars.
In many cases the EDC is involved in projects that violate the rights of indigenous people and do great harm to the environment, yet any information is exempt from the Access to Information Act.
Development and Peace is asking the Canadian government to play a greater role in ensuring corporate responsibility.
Development and Peace also feels that the Canadian government should play a stronger role in regulating Canadian corporations.
Corporations need to act responsibly when they do business with poorer countries. They should conduct proper environmental assessments and they should consult thoroughly with local communities.
It should also be easier to find out information about these companies and their dealings in poor countries and it should be easier to challenge them when they act irresponsibly. All too often, investments by Canadian corporations and Canada's EDC are endangering people and environments in the South.
In Colombia, Martha Domico can no longer feed her five children fish from the Sinu River. She can no longer paddle her canoe to market. Since 1995, a huge dam has barricaded the river that for hundreds of years nourished her people, the Embera Katio, a partner of Development and Peace.
Despite laws protecting the rights of Colombia's indigenous, they were not consulted on the construction of the dam. The Urra Hydro Mega-Dam, built in the heart of Embera territory, has had a serious impact on their environment. The once-nourishing river has been diverted and polluted, and the forest has been destroyed.
As well, the community mourns the loss of leaders like Lucindo and Alejandro Domico who were assassinated in 1999 after publicly denouncing the consortium of companies building the dam. Canada's EDC contributed a loan of more than $23 million towards the building of the dam.
Kimy Perma Domico, another leader of the Embera Katio, says, "The dam has brought death to our people, death to the fish, death to the members of our community who have seen their source of protein vanish . . . and death to our leaders who have protested or challenged the dam."
The Embera Katio have organized to defend their rights. The Urra consortium must now recognize the territorial rights of the Embera people, and the community will be partially compensated for the problems caused by the dam.
Many struggles remain for the Embera Katio, but the verdict is hopeful. Their determination and example challenges us to confront the role that Canada's EDC played in the destruction of a way of life and in its methods for evaluating projects.
For the action portion of the fall campaign, Development and Peace is asking people to sign a letter to the minister of international trade. The letter calls on the government to effectively regulate Canadian corporations and the EDC in its activities here and abroad.
The letter states that before corporations go ahead with projects they should always comply with international human rights agreements and environmental standards and have the agreement of local communities.
The Edmonton Archdiocesan Council for Development and Peace launched the Fall Action program on Oct. 12 with a workshop.
Two follow-up sessions are planned for Nov. 9 and 16 at the Development and Peace office, 205, 10711-107 Ave., Edmonton.
In the first session attendees will explore the mysteries of transnational companies and their impact on people's lives, particularly in South Africa, Colombia and the Philippines. In the second session they will explore what Catholic teachings have to say about the global economy.
Throughout the next several weeks, parish contacts will be introducing the new program in their parishes and asking for parishioner's support. A new video, entitled Sacred Land, Scarred Land, which includes stories about indigenous people and their lands that have been threatened by corporate recklessness, is also available on loan from the Development and Peace office at 424-1557.
More information on the work of the Canadian Catholic Organization For Development and Peace is available at its website, www.devp.org.