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Crowd blocks downtown Toronto street to protest mining convention

Last Updated Mar 1, 2020 at 4:11 pm EDT

Protesters blocked entrances outside a large mining convention in downtown Toronto. 680NEWS/Michelle Mackey

More than 100 people protested outside a mining convention Sunday in downtown Toronto, where they blocked traffic on multiple roads and stood in front of entrances to the event.

Organizers said they were demonstrating against the harmful effects of resource extraction to the environment and to Indigenous lands.

At one point, protesters attempted to enter the convention but were stopped by police.

“We want to make our voices heard and our presence seen because there are communities that this conference is directly impacting,” said Vanessa Gray, a protest organizer who’s Anishinaabe Kwe.

“The industry is doing mare harm than good for our future, our environment.”

Daniel Huizenga, who attended the protest with his son, said the issue has been in the spotlight due to recent demonstrations in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in British Columbia, who oppose a pipeline project in their traditional territory.

Those demonstrations have involved road and rail blockades, though police have recently moved to dismantle some of them.

“There’s a lot of things coming together at the moment,” said Huizenga. “Canada’s continued refusal of aboriginal title and rights is getting too much for people, they don’t want to see it anymore.”

Organizers for Sunday’s protest in Toronto said many of the companies who provide economic support for the Costal GasLink pipeline project in B.C. also take part in the mining convention.

They said the protest was raising concerns about the impact of resource extraction projects both in Canada and around the world.

Protesters pointed to a recent ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada, which decided that Vancouver-based mining company Nevsun Resources could be sued for alleged human rights abuses overseas, including modern slavery.

The ruling came after three refugees from Eritrea in eastern Africa alleged they were forced to work at a gold, copper and zinc mine.