UNBC students take on human rights in Guatemala

FEBRUARY 24, 2011


A team of UNBC students and their professor are demanding the Government of Canada investigate alleged human rights abuses by Canadian mining companies in Guatemala.

Geography professor Catherine Nolin and eight students partnered with Rights Action, a human rights advocacy group, in May 2010 to travel to Guatemala.

The group interviewed victims of alleged human rights abuses, and on July 5 filed a human rights complaint with Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon.

Ph.D. student Claudette Bois is one of the eight students speaking tonight at UNBC.

“It’s interesting to see how our companies are acting in other countries. To see how Canadians’ reputation is suffering because of these projects,” Bois said. “It’s a hard presentation to listen to, but it’s important.”

Guatemala is a Central American country of 13.5 million people bordering Mexico’s southeastern border. From 1960 to 1996 the country was racked by civil warfare between the government and guerilla forces.

Amnesty International alleges serious problems are happening in the impoverished country, including labour rights abuses, forced evictions, violent crime, corruption and the intimidation of trade unionists, journalists, human rights activists, elected officials and judges.

“We met people who had suffered from forced evictions,” Bois said. “People are literally living on the six feet on the side of the highway… where we’d have a ditch. People are living there with children and dogs and livestock.”

The group will be speaking about their experience in Guatemala and the people they interviewed tonight at UNBC. Doors open at 7 p.m. for the free event, which will take place in the Canfor Theatre.




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