Early this May PPP was sad to see Siobhan Powlowski head off to new Executive level opportunity in Vancouver, BC. Siobhan left a powerful legacy at PPP that benefited our organization in many ways, this included work with our society transition and with the development of new programming that if successfully funded, will greatly benefit women in the South Pacific. Siobhan’s heart was always firmly placed in service to South Pacific and Indigenous peoples, her unique approach was recognized through the award winning community based arts programming she helped create: the 2017 Longhouse Project and One Wave Gathering. We wish Siobhan all the best in her promising future. PPP is happy to report that Summer Students Extraordinaire Austin Willis and Dana Johnson are back on the Team again this Summer to help produce the 11th One Wave Gathering, watch for more details as they are also producing an important media artwork to commemorate last year’s program!
E! UA MALILIU TOA! UA MAUMAU AUPEGA O LE TUA! Alu ia male manuia lau malaga Chief Andy! Fa’amaise atu le Atua i le tina male fanau, fa’apea lou aiga! uo ma e masani male mamalu o ou tagata nu’u!
We wish to express our deepest respect and gratitude for the late Chief Andy Thomas, hereditary leader of Esquimalt Nation and knowledge keeper. We are forever grateful for Chief Andy’s generosity in time and wisdom, and for how he taught us to do our work in a good way — even guiding us when we made mistakes with laughter and humility. His family and nation are held close to our hearts as they navigate this deep loss.
Chief Andy was a great leader. We deeply admire his lifelong commitment to raising awareness of the injustices done to his people, and to ensuring that the mistakes of history never be repeated again.
Having worked closely with Chief Andy on youth leadership projects, we particularly remember Chief Andy’s fierce advocacy for the youth of his nation. He held an intense compassion, loyalty and pride for each and every youth, and it was clear to us that they brought him the utmost joy.
We are thankful to have worked with this great leader, and honored to have learned from him.
Thank you, Chief Andy Thomas. You will be deeply missed in our community.
By Arthur Holbrook, PPP Board Member
Porgera Mine, Enga Province, Papua New Guinea. Image courtesy of: Catherine Coumans, MiningWatch Canada
Recently, the federal government announced the creation of the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE). The ombudsperson “will be mandated to investigate allegations of human rights abuses linked to Canadian corporate activity abroad. The CORE will seek to assist wherever possible in collaboratively resolving disputes or conflicts between impacted communities and Canadian companies. It will be empowered to independently investigate, report, recommend remedy and monitor its implementation.” (Global Affairs Canada press release, Jan. 17, 2018) An initial focus of the ombudsperson will be extractive industries and the garment sector with additional sectors being added
after one year.
The new government initiative comes at least partly in response to events at the Porgera gold mine in Papua New Guinea. In May 2017 MiningWatch Canada brought two women who had suffered sexual abuse at the hands of the mine’s security personnel to Ottawa to testify about the abuses suffered by local people living near the mine. The women met with a number of parliamentarians, civil servants and media. They also spoke at the annual general meeting of Barrick Gold, the Canadian company that owns the mine.
Catherine Coumans, Asia Pacific Coordinator for MiningWatch Canada, stated that Canada’s, “record of mining in Papua New Guinea is one of social and environmental degradation. It includes destruction of river habitats and fisheries and systemic failures to recognize and deal with human rights abuses. These abuses include the rape of local women by employees of Barrick Gold’s Porgera Mine. … This case highlights a pervasive problem faced by people living around the world who suffer abuses related to mining. It is well known that it is very difficult for poor, marginal and often illiterate people to access justice in many countries where Canadian mining companies operate. This case highlights that we also cannot rely on companies’ own remedy mechanisms to provide equitable compensation in such serious cases. It is high time for Canada to step into this remedy gap by creating an effective remedy mechanism in Canada.” (MiningWatch Canada, 9 May 2017)
Interviewed for this article (29 March 2018), Coumans said it was too soon to tell whether the appointment of an ombudsperson would be an effective tool. The exact mandate of the new ombudsperson has not yet been made public and the proposed budget for the office is less than MiningWatch hoped it would be. Coumans is waiting to learn more about the independence of the new office, specifically regarding its investigative powers with respect to compelling documents and witnesses, and its staffing. If the ombudsperson has an adequate budget and is mandated to operate independently, he/she can prove to be an effective tool. A notice of opportunity for the new position will soon be posted so Coumans expects the position will be filled by the end of the summer.
However, even if the ombudsperson is an effective force against human rights and environmental abuses by mining companies, it will have limited reach in areas of concern to PPP because its oversight will be limited to Canadian companies. For example, it will have little effect on some of PPP’s long-standing partners in Papua New Guinea. The Frieda gold and copper mine, in the headwaters of the Sepik River, is 90% owned by Chinese interests and 10% by Australian ones. The company’s plan to barge ore down the Sepik will bring the social and environmental threats of the mine to the doorstep of our friends and partners.
There are a number of gold and copper mines in PNG but ownership is mostly Australian, South African and, in the case of the Ok Tedi mine, the scene of a major environmental disaster, the government of PNG. PNG, after the British-Australian company BHP ended its ownership, is purportedly now using profits from the mine as part of a remediation program on the river systems affected by the release of mine waste.
Porgera Mine protest- 2017- Enga Province, Papua New Guinea. Photo courtesy of: Catherine Coumans, MiningWatch Canada
About 60 per cent of the world’s mining companies are based in Canada, making Canada the ideal place to pioneer ways to ensure mines respect local people’s rights when operating abroad, according to Julia Sanchez, President-CEO of the Canadian Council for International Cooperation. Pacific Peoples’ Partnership applauds the Canadian government’s initiative, and looks forward to monitoring how it will positively affect South Pacific nations and our partners there.
Pearls of the South Pacific Polynesian Luau on 26 May 2018
Pearls of the South Pacific (PSP) dancers reflect different island heritages such as Samoa, Rotuma, New Zealand Maori, Fiji, Hawaii, and Tonga as well as Canada. Many of the young dancers are second generation islanders born in Canada with the desire to learn and pass on their culture’s stories and dances. Whether as part of the audience or as a participant, the PSP performances clearly resonate with their colorful dances, costumes and melodies represented in a variety of dances from the islands.
Based in Victoria, PSP is a Polynesian multicultural dance group started in 1997 by Muavae Va’a after he moved to British Columbia from the island of Samoa. “I have had the privilege to work and dance with many youth as they grew up within the group and also with many who have joined the group as adults.” Today Muavae and two of his children, Tua and Penina, continue to dance with the group that he started.
“Over the years we have shared our dances at many events in Vancouver Island communities and on the B.C. mainland, including Folk Fest Victoria, Greek Fest, One Wave Festival, First Nations Pow-wows and many weddings and family events. Looking forward to our next 20 years, it is our desire is to see this beautiful and unique culture shared with all who are committed to harmony and peace within the multicultural society that we live in.”
Pearls of the South Pacific Fund Raiser
Join PSP for an exciting colorful evening of dances and songs including all the flavours of an authentic Polynesian style feast with a traditional pig roast. As part of the evening, the popular South Pacific band, Tradewinds, will serenade guests with charming music from Western Samoa, New Zealand, Rotuma, Hawai`i and Fiji. Definitely an event for the WHOLE FAMILY!
Money raised on this joyful evening will go toward purchasing materials to create new authentic costumes while continuing PSP’s goal of passing on traditions to the next generations. The group also hopes to create a modest travel fund that will allow it to accept invitations for the first time to perform at some events and festivals a little farther from home.
Where: 7728 Tetayut Rd, Saanichton, BC at the Tswout First Nations Gymnasium.
Date and Time: Saturday, 26 May 2018. Doors open at 4 p.m.; Feast Served at 5 p.m.; Entertainment at 6:30 p.m.
Ticket Prices: Adult = $35 (18 years and up); Seniors = $25 (65+); Students = $25 (13 to 17 years)
Red Tide Indigenous Climate Action Summit
Pacific Peoples’ Partnership (PPP) typically produces a major international Pacific Networking Conference (PNC) every two years or so in Canada. We have held 23 so far. The themes and content of the conferences are always timely and on point, because they were developed in collaboration with our South Pacific and Canadian Indigenous partners.
In 2018 we are excited to be co-hosting our first-ever Pacific Networking Conference in the South Pacific!
Toi Toi Manawa Trust and Pacific Peoples’ Partnership are thrilled to co-present Red Tide: International Indigenous Climate Action Summit in the Māori tribal lands of Te Whānau-ā-Apanui, an iwi located in the eastern Bay of Plenty and East Coast regions of New Zealand’s North Island.
The main convening dates are confirmed for May 1 – 6, 2018.
May 1 & 2, 2018 – Youth Conference
May 3 – 6, 2018 – Full Summit
A wonderful pre-conference protocol program is also in development with more details to come, as is an artist residency. See additional information on our website www.redtidesummit.com
Join us in discussing and strategizing as we integrate Indigenous environmental science, activism, scientific observations and Indigenous youth involvement. The Summit will feature keynote speakers, interactive cultural sessions, open spaces and a festival of artists that will activate and rejuvenate this global movement.
Indigenous scholars, activists, allies, knowledge keepers and artists are invited to share, co-create, and connect ideas, impacts and stories related to climate change.
We are seeking donations towards the travel costs of delegates. Please donate now to help fund an Indigenous delegate to the gathering.