Gold Fever — the must-see documentary of the year

10 07 2013

Last term, I blogged about Goldcorp’s influence on the campus of UBC. I knew they were baddies and have infringed on human rights in Latin America. So I when I saw that the Vancity Theatre was going to be screening a documentary called Gold Fever, about Goldcorp and the mining industry in Guatemala, I knew I had to catch it.

Well, I saw it tonight and let me just say this: I don’t usually cry watching documentaries. But this one got me crying in a few places, particularly when the brave women in the small village of San Miguel retold their stories of coercion and violence against them from the Montana Mine and corrupt government officials. After watching this fantastic documentary, it really makes me ashamed to be at an institution that agreed to accept the money of such a barbaric, inhumane corporation. It’s disgusting, it’s sad, and it’s pathetic. It also made me depressed, to see such evil subjected to other members of our species because of greed. Is there hope in this issue? The film certainly didn’t seem to think so, but who knows.

While the film itself may not be perfect, the information and the stories of the real people in this film need to be told and heard. If you’re going to watch any documentary that will change how you think about how your own personal impact in the world, if you plan on watching any doc this year, I cannot recommend watching Gold Fever more. In fact, everyone should make it a priority to watch this.

Problems with UBC: The Big, Bad Goldcorp

10 03 2013

I was originally planning to write my next blog post about how UBC accepts donations from corporations, usually for a construction project (because we all know how desperate UBC is to claw their way out of the hole they dug themselves in) in return for naming a part of a building, like a wing, after the company.  Unfortunately, I had a bit of difficulty trying to find parts of UBC which are named after corporations.  Except for one.

The Earth Sciences building — if you recall, one of the university’s building projects that is still in the red — is in part funded by Goldcorp, a mining company based in Vancouver.  Now, I hadn’t heard of this company before, but apparently they’ve been caught up in some controversy with their practices in their mines in Central America.  CTV did a segment a few years ago and reported human rights violations among workers, besides other things. Workers have also been found to have arsenic in their blood, and the corporation was even found guilty of criminal charges for contamination.

“What a horrible company,” you say. “I hope UBC refused the money because they are ethical, moral people and not greedy bastards.”

(I’m sure you can see where this is going.)

And from UBC and Goldcorp’s copulation, the Goldcorp Teaching and Learning Wing, in the Earth Sciences building, was born.

It’s good to know that at least I wasn’t the only one to be thinking this: is UBC really in such dire need of money that they would be willing to accept money from a ill-reputed company in exchange for a part of the building to named Goldcorp Teaching and Learning Wing?  That answer is yes, apparently.

And UBC isn’t the first university Goldy has tried to win over with its shiny money.  SFU Woodward also received a whopping $10 million from Goldcorp.  When SFU students and everyone else fumed about SFU’s decision to take the money and build the appropriately named Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, SFU President Andrew Petter said Goldcorp’s appalling history was a “non-sequitor.”  At least he didn’t try to hide the fact that he knew of Goldcorp’s background.  It makes me wonder what Stephen Toope thought when he approved of the deal.  Oh yeah.  He said it was “delightful”.

I haven’t visited the Earth Sciences building, but I keep reading about how wonderful and awe-inspiring it is.  There’s even a free-floating staircase.  Ooooh.  I wonder which corporation it’s named after.

— Taking the You out of UBC.

Earth Sciences Building | UBC by tyfn
Earth Sciences Building, or, Goldcorp’s testicle to mark their territory at UBC.
Earth Sciences Building | UBC, a photo by tyfn on Flickr.