Mining institute fast-tracked past the checks & balances at UBC

Let’s make a deal: the contribution agreement between UBC and CIDA for formation of CIIEID (now CIRDI) was fast-tracked around the UBC Board of Governors’ normal decision-making process.

Let’s make a deal: the contribution agreement between UBC and CIDA for formation of CIIEID (now CIRDI) was fast-tracked around the UBC Board of Governors’ public decision-making process.

NOTE: Much of the content of this post is adapted from a communication sent in March 2015 to John Hepburn, UBC’s VP Research & International, who, with then-President Stephen Toope, in 2013 rushed UBC’s Board of Governors (BOG) to vote on approving CIIEID/CIRDI  between (instead of at) public meetings. John Hepburn has not responded to multiple emails about the issues raised.

How Toope & Hepburn hustled CIRDI past the checks & balances

The circumstances under which UBC administration hustled the university to approve hosting the federal government’s CIIEID/CIRDI mining institute call into question the degree of transparency and accountability around the governance process and the decision itself, and whether appropriate consideration was given to the mining institute’s mandate, structure, objectives, and ethics.

BOG meeting minutes indicate that the proposal to host this institute at UBC was voted on electronically on 22 May 2013, unencumbered with open debate or public scrutiny. Reviewing publicly-accessible information and UBC’s BOG agenda packages and meeting minutes, we trace the following timeline of the well-lubricated approval process:

Julian Fantino, then-Minister for International Cooperation, announced on 23 November 2012 that UBC and SFU had been selected to host the Harper-mandated CIIEID. According to a SFU media release on 23 November 2012, CIIEID proponents and highest executives of both SFU and UBC were already aware of the announcement.

The UBC BOG meeting agenda for 04 December 2012 makes no mention of the Canadian International Institute for the Extractive Industries and Development, but the meeting minutes for 04 December 2012 remark that “UBC has formed a coalition with Simon Fraser University, with the collaboration of Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal (EPDM), to establish the Canadian International Institute for Extractive Industries and Development (CIIEID).”

The BOG meeting agenda for 03 April 2013 makes no mention of the CIIEID; neither do the meeting minutes for 04 April 2013.

According to this report dated 17 May 2013, UBC officials had already signed the Contribution Agreement with CIDA on 15 May 2013, formally establishing the institute at UBC before the BOG had a chance to ask questions, debate, and vote. (We recognize that on CIRDI’s website, this date is identified as 24 May 2013, similar to the date penned on the Contribution Agreement itself.)

The report dated 17 May 2013 signed by Dr. Stephen Toope and circulated electronically by Dr. John Hepburn, requested that “the UBC Board of Governors approve the execution of a contribution agreement with CIDA to establish the CIIEID at UBC in partnership with Simon Fraser University.” The first reason for Toope & Hepburn’s urgency to push this through is cited as “significant reputational losses to UBC…politically, given CIDA’s Minister has announced that the institute will be hosted by the UBC-SFU coalition.” Another reason cited is that UBC would somehow be responsible to repay Properties Trust for costs already committed: “If the Governance Agreement is not signed, the Institute will cease to exist and UBC would be responsible for all funds expended to that date, including space lease commitments (Properties Trust).

UBC’s BOG voted electronically on 22 May 2013–only five days after receiving the brief summary report–to approve execution of the contribution agreement. Available documents do not indicate whether the BOG members had access to the full text of the Contribution Agreement, whether there was space for meaningful discussion of the proposal, or if they were aware the vote was an ex post facto formality.

The BOG meeting agenda for 04 June 2013 and corresponding minutes (item 6.4) indicates that the resolution had been “circulated electronically and approved by the Board of Governors on May 22, 2013.”

It appears that UBC’s Senate did not debate, discuss, or vote on approval of the CIIEID.

Timing is everything: UBC Board of Governors' vote on the CIIEID Contribution Agreement appears to have been an ex post facto formality since Hepburn had already signed UBC into contract with the federal government.

Timing is everything: UBC Board of Governors’ vote on the CIIEID Contribution Agreement appears to have been an ex post facto formality since Hepburn had already signed UBC into contract with the federal government.

Fast track: similarities between CIRDI and the Munk School

Many Canadians will recognize similarities in this covert fast-track to recent controversy at the University of Toronto. Here’s a concise refresher written by folks with the Peter Munk OUT of UofT campaign, that chronicles the UofT president’s dubious fast-tracking of the (Barrick Gold CEO) Peter Munk contract for the School of Global Affairs. This May 2015 article, Neoconning the public, by Anthony J. Hall, further details the nefarious Barrick/Munk connections to the UofT and Canadian foreign policy on behalf of the mining industry.

That Stephen Toope, the UBC president who pushed through CIRDI’s approval at UBC, then resigned from his position in the middle of his second term, and now heads the mining industry-linked Munk School at UofT, is not lost on anyone.

Under Toope’s influence, UBC’s administration steered the university down a wrong path: kowtowing to Big Oil, Big Mining, and the neoliberal trends of the federal government. The actions of this university administration over the last two years to fast-track and defend this mining institute at all costs brazenly contradict the university’s vision of fostering global citizenship, advancing a civil and sustainable society, and serving the people of British Columbia, Canada and the world.

This error can be reversed.

Requesting results of UBC’s ‘consultation’ around the CIIEID/CIRDI

According to Toope & Hepburn’s document circulated to the BOG, “CIDA provided the opportunity for consultation prior to the RFP release and these documents were consulted in the development of the UBC-SFU proposal.” A hollow claim in light of this 2013 UQAM-published report that demonstrates how the extensive cautions and critical feedback given by academics and civil society organizations to CIDA’s 2012 consultation note for the CIIEID were not reflected in the mining institute implemented at UBC and SFU, and that those who made submissions felt the rapid ‘consultation’ was a sham.

Further, we request that UBC substantiate this executive duo’s claim that “Relevant UBC faculty members and departments were consulted, including Law, Sauder and Earth and Ocean Sciences. SFU also had broad-ranging consultations/discussions. Finally, several leading consultants/experts in extractive industries and international development were included as part of the Steering Committee.

Like CIDA’s smokescreen, it’s doubtful that meaningful consultation was conducted at the universities either, or that critical feedback was implemented.

So if any such documentation exists, we’re requesting UBC and SFU to immediately make a public release of all documents related to this consultation process; all feedback provided by academics, departments, civil society organizations, consultants, and experts; and all documents generated by the CIIEID-related ‘Steering Committee.’

Also, to any readers of this post that had provided feedback in 2012-2013 to CIDA, UBC, or SFU consultations about the CIIEID, please send us a copy of your submission (so we can compare your input to what’s been implemented). You can send it to or to any of the students that you know are working on this.

Railroading extractive interests at home & abroad

Almost everywhere Canadian mining and oil & gas companies operate, they or their subsidiaries railroad projects past host peoples’ visions of development and traditional relationships with the place.

railroad (ˈrālˌrōd). v. 1. To manipulate and hasten a procedure, as of formal approval of a law or resolution. 2. To press someone into doing something by rushing or coercing them. 3. To push (a law or bill) hastily through a legislature so that there is not time enough for objections to be considered. (source)

Out of sight of their Canadian peers and confident in their impunity, Canadian extractive companies criminalize local opposition to the extractive projects; manipulate host country politics, legislation, and judges; and ‘social management’ consultants urge the companies to wrangle host countries’ police & military units into their own service to control opposition. These Canadian companies ignore international standards (such as ILO Convention 169 and the UNDRIP) that require them to be given the free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) of Indigenous peoples before pursuing a project. The modus operandi is to ensure hasty and insufficient review of project proposals and impact assessments, to guarantee approval by host governments’ regulating bodies.

In the same way, proponents of this mining institute have hustled CIRDI around the checks & balances, and into our universities, whether we want it or not. Is this audacity typical of the extractive industries, or endemic to privileged technocrats who demand that the playing field is tilted in their favor?

With appropriate consideration, enough time for discussion, and genuine debate about the institute’s premise, initiatives as ill-conceived and poorly-disguised as CIRDI would be rejected. But Toope and Hepburn appear to have side-stepped critical public debate, giving UBC’s BOG only five days to consider the electronically-distributed document, misrepresenting the institute’s premise, its ethical and financial conflicts of interest, and the liabilities it would impart to the universities.

CIRDI’s proponents have made no good-faith effort to engage with the critiques made by their peers, at their home universities, in Canada. To this day, they advance their will for this mining institute through use of short-cuts and opacity. It would be foolish and irresponsible of us to expect any better of CIRDI in its operations outside Canada.

Until it’s closed outright, we cannot let this mining institute out of our sight, or allow it to operate abroad.

Scapegoat wanted: CIRDI baits a CEO

Photo by Ryan McGuire,

In March we wrote about the comical turn-over of CIRDI employees, contract workers, managers, and executives in the post The CIRDI trainwreck: where good careers go to die. We mentioned that the Executive Director position – filled for only a year by mining industry veteran Daniel Dumas – had recently been vacated.

Well, CIRDI is hiring again. (Again.)

They’ve posted a job advertisement for “CEO of CIRDI” on UBC’s recruitment site and elsewhere, aesthetically raising the profile of the position from “Executive Director” to “Chief Executive Officer,” as if the organization merits such lofty titles, or in an attempt to attract competence. Either way, cute.

Before you send your CV our way (it’s happened), and as you mull over the salary of $139,691.00 – $174,614.00 (68th to 85th percentile of UBC staff, faculty, and executives), consider the risks outlined in the job ad and in this post. It may save you a lot of trouble down the road.

CIRDI leadership remains tight-lipped about the reason for the vacancy, but one source informs us that Daniel Dumas was dismissed “without cause” from his position as the mining institute’s executive director. Moura Quayle, currently the director of the Liu Institute for Global Issues (CIRDI’s new administrative home), has stepped in as the mining institute’s interim executive director, and chairs its executive board.

CIRDI’s executive board is now looking for someone who is “politically astute” and brings “a minimum of 15 years senior management experience with a minimum of five years in an executive director or CEO position” to lead CIRDI from its current mire to the next. Mining institute leadership has no idea how to handle its directive, so they’re banking on hiring someone who’s way over-qualified.

Consequences of the CIRDI CEO’s error & poor judgement

Those leading CIRDI feel that “the Institute will have significant reputational benefits to UBC and its coalition members”: grossly misrepresenting the unbalanced binary they’re dealt.

At best, the mining institute can bring minimum reputational benefit to its partners. Not screwing up in CIRDI’s executive director position may mean a few million dollars cash or in-kind funding attracted to the coalition universities: barely ‘significant’ to UBC’s billion-dollar-a-year budget. And green-washed extractive sector projects, no matter how well polished by copy-writers and marketing professionals, hardly contribute reputational distinction to these universities.

On the other hand, with the flawed mandate the incumbent must steward to, and the complexities of its bizarre partner network, CIRDI is inadvertently designed to bring maximum reputational liability to the universities and its partners. Any experienced executive with even a casual knowledge of game theory or statistics would avoid fronting this.

So here’s the list of consequences of error and poor judgement, directly from the job ad; notice the pattern that emerges:

This position is critical to the success of the Institute, building its profile and credibility, achieving sustainability, building development relationships and ensuring the Institute reaches its mandate.

The position is responsible for dealing with complex confidential information where consequence of error is high. Errors in judgment could result in serious impact to the operational activities of the Institute, UBC, coalition universities, and the federal government. This high-profile Institute is operating in a politically sensitive environment.

The position is a critical point of contact and is expected to make decisions and recommendations impacting the overall program of the institute.  Incorrect interpretation or communication of university policy and procedures or lack of tact, diplomacy or sensitivity in dealing with stakeholders could potentially result in damaged relationships and credibility, leading to the potential irreparable damage for the coalition Universities, including their relationships with funders and the federal government.

The Institute will have significant reputational benefits to UBC and its coalition members. Mismanagement of this portfolio would have significant reputational consequences for faculty and schools associated with the Institute, for the Presidents of the coalition universities, and for CIDA and the federal government more broadly.

Mismanagement of funds or inaccurate tracking of significant in-kind commitments from coalition universities and strategic partners could result in a significant financial loss to the Institute, to UBC and to its coalition members, SFU and EPM.

Of course you saw it: this repeatedly focuses on negative consequences (of errors in judgement; incorrect interpretation of university policy; lack of tact, diplomacy, or sensitivity with stakeholders; mismanaging the portfolio; squandering funds; and failing to track financial commitments) to CIRDI’s own crew (the Institute itself; the coalition universities UBC, SFU, and EPM; the Presidents of these universities; funders; CIDA; and the federal government).

It’s a pattern of connecting potential errors made by this mining institute’s CEO to negative consequences for those with the most reputation to lose… but let’s examine the consequences of what the CEO is actually required to do for CIRDI:

  • Forming partnerships with companies with track records of criminal activity, predation, human rights abuses, or criminalization of community leaders — may impart a loss of reputation & credibility to this same crew of partners, universities, and government. (Or, might such partnership have very real consequences to those suffering, since accepting funding or affiliation gives tacit approval to the companies’ actions, rather than solidarity with those forced into harm’s way?)
  • Facilitating academic apologetics for the status-quo Canadian mining model (that consistently involves land evictions, undermining sovereign decision-making, murders of human rights defenders, and deregulation of the mining sector) — could challenge the legitimacy of this same crew of partners. (Or, might such rationalization only allow these abuses to continue, imparting horrific consequences to those whose rights, farms, voices, and futures are brushed out of the way?)
  • Organizing fora in which public-sector decision-makers of resource-rich nations are pressured or wooed into advancing the private interests of Canada-based mining companies, while intentionally excluding critique and voices of those with the most to lose — may bring reputational liability to this same crew of partners. (Or, might such imposition of an extractivist ideology ultimately hinder people and their governments who are earnestly working toward their own ways of ordering their world and resources?)

Hopefully it’s clear that there’s much more at stake than just reputational liability to the mining institute’s glitziest associates. What’s missing is recognizing that this mining institute, its industry-savvy CEO, and any errors in judgement present far greater liabilities to those who may not have corporate reputations to protect, but whose livelihood, well-being, and personal safety are at stake.

In this sense, CIRDI itself is the consequence of error and poor judgement by those who crafted its mandate, structure, and partner network.

The face of a hegemonic tool

Even how this mining institute’s leadership describes what they’re doing is troubling:

The ultimate outcome [of CIRDI] is to improve the ability of developing countries to utilize and benefit from their extractive sectors in order to stimulate sustainable economic growth and reduce poverty.

And CIRDI’s directors apparently believe this nonsense, oblivious that improving the ability of developing countries to use and benefit from their extractive sectors is patronizingly disdainful of the people’s ability in those countries to ‘develop’ or to exist on their own terms without the industry-funded intervention of Canadian predation passed off as an “international development institute.”

This institute, run by technocrats blind to the fact that they are parasitically living in and drawing wages from the operational and financial heart of the world’s extractive sector, can’t even find a way to describe what they do in a manner not condescending to the people in resource-rich, so-called ‘developing’ countries, and they can’t find a way to obscure the imperialist and hegemonic directive the federal government has given them.

hegemony (hɪˈdʒəm.ə.ni) n. 1. Domination, influence, or authority over another, especially by one political group over a society or by one nation over others. 2. Dominance of one social group over another, such that the ruling group or hegemon acquires some degree of consent from the subordinate, as opposed to dominance purely by force. (source)

imperialism (imˈpirēəˌlizəm) n. The policy of forcefully extending a nation’s authority by territorial gain or by the establishment of economic and political dominance over other nations. (source)

condescension (kɒndiˈsɛnʃən) n. 1. A manner of behaving toward others in an outwardly polite way that nevertheless implies one’s own superiority to the others; patronizing courtesy toward inferiors. 2. An attitude of patronizing superiority; disdain. (source)

apologetics (əˌpäləˈjetiks) n. 1. The field of study concerned with the systematic defense of a position, or of religious or occult doctrines. 2. Reasoned arguments or writings in justification of something, typically a theory or religious doctrine. (source)

PSA: just avoid CIRDI

A final caution to anyone taking this UBC mining institute job ad seriously, and considering joining the broken organization: you will come off the loser. Your reputation will suffer with that of CIRDI. Don’t risk it.

We will continue to challenge CIRDI’s premise, contact its partners, expose its rhetoric, and warn communities of this mining institute’s mandate to run interference for the Canadian mining industry.

The portfolio is far more complex than the board or the universities are capable of handling: the CEO’s hands are tied by conflicts of interest between the federal government, the industrial partners (who’ll eventually control funding), the universities’ unpredictable administration, and public critics of the mining institute’s flawed proposition.

Esteemed potential applicant, you won’t last long as CIRDI’s face, and you will leave, on your own terms or otherwise, with your tail between your legs.

Full text of the original job ad [PDF – 314 KB]

The CIRDI trainwreck: where good careers go to die


The Canadian International Resources and Development Institute is hiring.


Perhaps new hires don’t stick around, or contract employees refuse to renew. Perhaps those leading CIRDI don’t have a clue what they’ve gotten themselves into, but just keep steaming ahead. Or perhaps people who know their potential quickly realize that working with CIRDI will be a permanent, toxic blot on their professional reputations.


Brainchild of Stephen Harper, CIRDI is a think-tank serving the international public relations needs of the Canadian federal government’s holy trinity: Big Mining, Big Oil, and Big Gas.

For historical reasons, Canada is the de facto jurisdiction of convenience for the world’s Big Mining sector, and for contemporary reasons, our federal government is marshalling the financial, military, diplomatic, legislative, and academic assets available to it to support Canada-based transnational extractive companies’ projects overseas.

It’s been identified as an effort to harness the public trust in academia and non-governmental organizations to perform public relations for an industrial sector that’s increasingly labelled as predatory and accused of a litany of environmental and human rights abuses at home and abroad.

Why CIRDI’s off the tracks

Academic proponents of CIRDI are in a tight spot. With the federal government’s marching orders and expectations from the extractive sector on one side, and an increasingly unwelcoming/hostile attitude toward the institute within the academic community on the other side, the best CIRDI can do is “attend events” and “dialogue with stakeholders” and reorganize their structure and programming areas.

Why does this train seem to be spinning its steel wheels, sitting perpendicular to the tracks? A mandate from the prime minister’s office that doesn’t make sense? Institutional confusion as to what they’re supposed to be doing? International mistrust of another wave of gung-ho Canadian technocrats negotiating meetings between host-government officials and mining sector spokespersons?

Whatever the reason for this institutional mire, the new faces appear only briefly in CIRDI’s executive, director, management, and staff positions before moving on.

Your career will suffer

As you consider the next step in your career, you may encounter CIRDI’s postings of employment opportunities on,,, and UBC’s HR page. Young professionals laying the groundwork for a successful career will likely come to their own judgments about CIRDI employment opportunities:

  1. CIRDI’s direction is problematic and can’t contribute to good for those affected by Canadian mining abroad. I will not be part of this.
  2. Either those leading CIRDI are incapable of genuinely addressing the critiques that have been raised, or CIRDI deserves its reputation as a toxic and unwelcome interloper in the university community. My career would stagnate with this group.
  3. There’s enough public commentary about CIRDI that this has the potential to leave a nasty stain on my CV. Instead of risking my reputation with CIRDI; I’ll nurture my career elsewhere.
  4. The coalition universities are being urged to shutter CIRDI, and there’s good reason for this outcry. If the universities will close CIRDI, or if it’s constantly under so much public scrutiny and will fold any time, I can do much better.

Know what train you’re boarding

In an interview, anyone would have to ask the key questions:

  • Who had this job before me? Why did she or he leave?
  • What’s keeping leadership from genuinely responding to the critiques people are raising about CIRDI? Is this indicative of an organizational culture that refuses to accept criticism, or is unwilling to correct its path?
  • Many people are saying that CIRDI reflects poorly on the university. Can you articulate why? Will I be unwelcome at UBC or SFU if people know I work for CIRDI?
  • If project work leads to results critical of the extractive industry, will I be disallowed from publishing?
  • How can CIRDI be structured to work on the terms of vulnerable communities, and conduct research that they are actually calling for? What good-faith efforts have been made to seek meaningful input from affected communities?

Apply & interview… for research

Yes, why not use the interview as an opportunity to ask CIRDI decision-makers some important questions, such as:

  • If I take this job, will I have full access to CIRDI’s network drive? Is there a photocopier that I can use after-hours? Will my network traffic be monitored?
  • If I’m sent overseas on travel associated with CIRDI, will I be accountable for my spending and behavior there? What mechanisms do we use to avoid public accountability?
  • What about pesky freedom of information requests? How does CIRDI get around disclosing information if there’s legislation that forces us to share it?
  • I’ve got a family member who’s an executive at such-and-such a mining company. They have a ton of ideas they want to see written into Argentina’s mining code. Should they just partner with CIRDI to get this done?

All aboard the trainwreck (actual CIRDI employment ads)

At time of writing this post, CIRDI has been advertising for several permanent and temporary positions. We’ll update this comical list (or make a dedicated page) as CIRDI creates new advertisements for vacated positions, including that of the recently-vacated Executive Director position.

Check out these lofty titles & descriptions, and notice the preference for candidates with long-standing affiliations and experience with the extractive sector, and no pretention to consider the terms of those most affected by Canadian mining companies:

Senior Program Lead, “Sustainable Development and Governance of the Extractive Sector”

is responsible for overseeing projects related to governance, policy and the development of frameworks necessary for the management of the sector” and requires “extensive experience in project management and implementation, [and] experience in the extractive sectors (mining, and/or oil & gas)

As advertised on UBC’s HR site, “The Institute wants to develop a niche in capacity building and in on-going support and reinforcement required to embed these frameworks within the governance systems of host governments.” This position is to oversee the imposition of a Canadian extractivist wordview on foreign governments.

Senior Program Lead, “Economic Diversification and Local Supply Chains”

is responsible for determining the types of policies and capacity-building activities that can be used to achieve substantive improvements in local content of developing countries” and of course also requires “extensive experience in project management and implementation, [and] experience in the extractive sectors (mining, and/or oil & gas)

Senior Program Lead, “Multi-stakeholder Integration of Resource Development and Planning”

is responsible for working with local and regional stakeholders through dialogue and engagement for better management of the resource extraction sector, addressing issues related to impacts on shared land and water, and on public health and well-being” but still requires the candidate to possess “extensive experience in project management and implementation, [and] experience in the extractive sectors (mining, and/or oil & gas)

Short-Term Consultants/Specialists

looking for people with “expertise in mineral licensing, geological data management, financial auditing and royalty collection and institutional capacity building” and the “ability to conduct capacity-building activities, familiarity with the regulatory systems of the extractives sector, and knowledge of the extractives industry in developing country contexts and… certification in project management, business, economics or similar

Of course, individuals/consultants that do take these positions will be identified here and here as contributing to the threat this institute poses to communities made vulnerable by the Canadian extractive model.

Another kind of CIRDI recruitment

Why not specifically apply for CIRDI positions–just for the opportunity to gather information through the interview process? Desperate for new hires, maybe they’re less guarded with applicants. After all, that tightly-held information isn’t going to liberate itself!

Facing so much opacity from outside, we realize: taking a throw-away job embedded in CIRDI, one could quickly copy, scan, and liberate:

  • reports submitted to DFATD (project implementation plans, performance measurement frameworks, annual financial and narrative reports; audited financial statements, budgetary forecasts, etc.)
  • emails to/from all supporters, partners, strategic partners
  • annual and project budgets
  • travel itineraries, spending records, junket receipts
  • notes, reports, minutes, emails related to all projects abroad
  • the database of extractive sector expertise that CIRDI has been compiling

Some handy tags: CIRDI Employment, Careers, Jobs, Opportunities, Senior Program Lead, Communications Director, Executive Director, Learning and Education, Institute Development and Management, CIRDI Mining Jobs, Mining Lobby Jobs, Short-Term Consultant, significant reputational consequences, manage reactive communications, thwart public inquiry, exercise discretion & confidentiality, portfolio mismanagement, reputational consequences, CIRDI recruitment, information leak

CIRDI employment downloads [JPGs]: Economist, GOXI, DEVEX, UBC-05, UBC-06

The Devil Operation – free film screening March 30th at UBC


Father Marco, a humble priest from the mountains of Peru, is being followed. A private security firm is filming and photographing the priest’s every move; their meticulous reports are code-named ‘The Devil Operation.’

Marco’s allies are murdered and tortured, but he and his disciples refuse to be victims. They turn their cameras on the spies and develop a counter-espionage plan that leads to South America’s largest gold mine.

For the past two decades, Father Marco has defended farming communities against the Yanacocha mine’s abuses, earning him the nickname ‘The Devil’.

Peru is one of the world’s top gold producers and the state has ceded power to transnational corporations who guard their territory like outlaws from the Wild West.

This real-life political thriller exposes the new wave of corporate terrorism faced by Latin America’s human rights defenders.

followed by discussion and Q&A with film-makers
Stephanie Boyd + Miguel Araoz

5:00 – 7:00 pm, Monday, 30 March 2015
UBC, Buchanan A, Room 102
and the
UBC Social Justice Centre

 Miguel Araoz Cartagena is a Peruvian visual artist and film maker who was born and raised in the mountains of Cusco. In 2009 he helped found Quisca productions, a non-profit association of film makers in Cusco, and serves as the group’s president. He was artistic director and associate producer of the award-winning film ‘The Devil Operation’ and his paintings have been exhibited in galleries in Switzerland, France, Brazil, Lima and his native Cusco. Miguel is currently working on a new film with Quisca about indigenous Kukama communities in Peru’s Amazon struggling to save their rivers from oil drilling and a massive, commercial water-way project.

Stephanie Boyd was born and raised in Canada and has lived in Peru since 1997, working as a film maker and journalist. The Devil Operation (2010) is the first film she has directed and produced alone and she spent 10 years filming the protagonists and following their stories. Stephanie’s films have been broadcast on the Sundance Channel, CBC Country Canada, PBS affiliates, Al Jazeera, TeleSur and broadcasters in Peru, Cuba, Burma, Hungary and dozens of other countries. She has also worked as a journalist in eastern Africa, and has published articles in various publications including NOW magazine, The Toronto Star and

Download the PDF poster for this event.

And add these upcoming events to your calendar:

A Questionable Proposition of Values (panel discussion)

Kanahus Manuel + Jen Moore + Alain Deneault + Angelica Choc + Miguel Mijangos
2:30 – 4:30 pm, Thursday 26 March 2015
UBC, Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, Room 302 (Dodson Room)

Research on extraction: what for and for whom? (workshop)

at the State of Extraction Conference
9:00 am – 12:00 pm, Saturday 28 March 2015
SFU Harbour Centre, 515 West Hastings St.

Toxic Tour: voices of resistance vs. extractive industries (tour of downtown Vancouver)

with the Mining Justice Alliance
12: 00 – 3:00 pm, Saturday 28 March 2015
starts at north side of Vancouver Art Gallery (Georgia & Howe)

A Questionable Proposition of Values – panel discussion 26 March at UBC


A panel discussion on Canadian mining, the privilege the sector is given by federal and provincial governments, the impacts of these companies on communities and territorial rights-holders, and whether Canada is projecting these extractivist values abroad.

The panel will deconstruct the ideological roots behind CIRDI — the Canadian International Resources and Development Institute — a mining , oil, and gas industry think-tank now hosted at UBC.

Kanahus Manuel + Jennifer Moore + Alain Deneault + Angelica Choc + Miguel Mijangos

2:30 — 4:30 pm, Thursday 26 March
UBC Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, Room 302 (Dodson Room)
unceded Coast Salish territory
and the
UBC Social Justice Centre

Kanahus Manuel is a mother and warrior from the Secwpemc Nation in the Shuswap region. She has been active in fighting against development projects and corporations such as the Sun Peaks Ski Resort and Imperial Metals. Recently, she has been involved in organizing to raise awareness about the Mount Polley gold-copper mine tailings spill, possibly the worst mining pollution disaster in Canadian history. She helped to set up the Yuct Ne Senxiymetkwe camp at the disaster site.

Jennifer Moore is Latin America Program Coordinator of Mining Watch Canada, where she works on the Guatemala/Goldcorp campaign and on supporting communities, organizations, and networks struggling with mining issues throughout Latin America. Jennifer is a freelance print and broadcast journalist with twelve years experience in social justice journalism, a third of which she has gained while living and working in Ecuador.

Alain Deneault is a researcher with Réseau pour la justice fiscale Québec, and a lecturer in Political Science at the Université de Montréal. He has written on the mining industry worldwide (Imperial Canada Inc., 2012), and on tax havens (Canada: a new tax haven, 2015, forthcoming).

Miguel Mijangos: works in the Costa Chica-Montaña region of Guerrero, Mexico and in the southern highlands of Oaxaca with Indigenous and campesino communities in processes of community and territorial planning. He belongs to the organization Comprehensive Processes for Peoples’ Self-Governance, a collective that works closely with other organizations at the regional level and part of the Mexican Network of Mining Affected Peoples (REMA by its initials in Spanish), which undertakes strategies to address the extractive mining model.

Angelica Choc is an indigenous Mayan Q’eqchi’ from the community of La Uníon, in the Municipality of El Estor, Republic of Guatemala. Five years ago, her husband, Adolfo Ich Chamán, was killed by security forces employed at the Fenix mining project in Guatemala – at the time owned by Canadian company HudBay Minerals.

Peter Wood (panel moderator/facilitator): Peter has many years of conservation-related experience in BC and internationally, and is currently the terrestrial campaigns director for CPAWS-BC.

Download the PDF poster call-out for this event.

And mark these upcoming events on your calendar:

Research on extraction: what for and for whom? (workshop)

at the State of Extraction Conference
9:00 am – 12:00 pm, Saturday 28 March 2015
SFU Harbour Centre, 515 West Hastings St.

The Devil Operation (film screening)

with Stephanie Boyd + Miguel Araoz
5:00 – 7:00 pm, Monday 30 March 2015
UBC, Buchanan A, Room 102

Toxic Tour: voices of resistance vs. extractive industries (tour of downtown Vancouver)

with the Mining Justice Alliance
12: 00 – 3:00 pm, Saturday 28 March 2015
starts at north side of Vancouver Art Gallery (Georgia & Howe)

State of Extraction: free conference in Vancouver March 27-29


SFU’s Institute for the Humanities is hosting the upcoming State of Extraction Conference, a Friday-Saturday-Sunday weekend of speakers, film screenings, panel discussions, and workshops.

SFU/UBC students/alumni with the Stop the Institute campaign have organized a hands-on workshop called “Research on extraction: what for and for whom?” to be held 9:00 – 12:00 on Saturday morning at SFU’s Harbour Centre, and we invite you all to participate!

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University wake-up call: petition demands closure of mining institute

VANCOUVER, BC – Over 1000 individuals and civil society organizations are signatories to a letter petitioning coalition universities to dissolve the mining, oil, and gas think-tank headquartered at UBC.

Among the signatories are professors Glen Coulthard (UBC), David Suzuki (UBC, emeritus), Stephen Collis (SFU), Stephen Brown (U. of Ottawa), and Boaventura de Sousa Santos (U. of Coimbra), and author Naomi Klein. Many other professors and hundreds of students at the coalition universities join them. Additionally, hundreds more community members, stakeholders, and public intellectuals have added their names to the petition, including Hugo Blanco, community organizer and editor of Peru’s Lucha Indigena; Alberto Acosta, economist and former member of Ecuador’s Constituent Assembly; and Uruguayan journalist Raúl Zibechi.

Funded $24.6M by the federal government, plus roughly $21M more by coalition universities and strategic partners, the Canadian International Resources and Development Institute—CIRDI (formerly known as CIIEID)—has received consistent opposition by academics and civil society alike.

Addressed to the Presidents and Boards of Governors of UBC, SFU, and École Polytechnique de Montréal, the petition specifically lists a loss of academic freedom, biased representation and conflicts of interest, lack of credibility and trust, and a lack of accountability as the reasons to pull out of the agreement with the federal government. It states that the signatories do not want their universities “linked with an industry currently being rejected by many communities in Canada and around the world because of its destructive impact on their lives and on the environment.”

A project with origins in the Prime Minister’s Office, in 2013 the coalition of three universities signed an agreement with the federal government to run the institute mandated to intervene in developing countries’ “policy, legislation, regulatory development and implementation, training, technical assistance, and applied research related to their own extractive sectors.”

A fundamental disconnect in CIRDI’s mandate, however, is that these so-called developing countries’ own extractive sectors are comprised in their majority by Canada-based transnationals. Indigenous and non-indigenous communities, and grass-roots organizations in solidarity with those affected by extractive projects have long been calling for an end to the impunity that Canadian companies have, and demand mechanisms of accountability in Canadian legislation to hold the companies accountable in our courts for abuses committed abroad.

Now academics, alumni, rights-holders, and stakeholders across Canada and in Latin America have made it clear to the decision-makers at the universities that, rather than attempting to overhaul a fundamentally flawed experiment, it is now time to take the precedent-setting step of dissolving CIRDI, advocating rather for research into the role and impacts of Canadian extractivism abroad that is truly independent from conflicted interests.

The letter states that “an appropriate institute would rather be accountable to communities impacted by extractive projects, and emphasize their rights to free, prior, and informed consent, which includes the right to legislate against or reject a given extractive project. The appropriate problem to be addressed by such an institute is Canada’s responsibility in resource extraction conflicts both here and abroad, and the lack of accountability for Canadian companies accused of abuses abroad.”

Signatories to the petition expect the Boards of Governors to write off the sunk cost resulting from the 2013 decision and ultimately to dissolve the Canadian International Resources and Development Institute.

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More information: The student-run website hosts information on CIRDI, critiques, recommendations, an open communiqué, and a blog with updates on the campaign to close the institute. See also CIRDI’s own website, and this March 2014 brief by MiningWatch Canada on the new institute (at the time called CIIEID).

View full text of the petition here:

Contact info:

General information:



Llamado a las universidades para tomar acción: petición para disolver el instituto minero

VANCOUVER, CANADÁ– Más de 1000 individuos y organizaciones de la sociedad civil han firmado una carta de petición para pedir que la coalición de universidades en Canadá disuelva el instituto minero, petrolero y gas que tiene su centro de operaciones en la Universidad de British Columbia ubicada en Vancouver.

Entre los signatarios se encuentran profesores de la Universidad de British Columbia incluyendo a Glen Coulthard, y profesores de la Universidad de Simón Fraser como a Stephen Collis, el profesor emérito David Suzuki, y la escritora Naomi Klein. A ellos se suman signatarios notables de América Latina y del mundo que incluyen al líder indígena y editor de la revista Lucha Indígena de Perú, Hugo Blanco, el economista y ex-miembro de la Asamblea Constituyente de Ecuador Alberto Acosta, el periodista uruguayo Rául Zibechi y el conocido profesor Boaventura de Sousa Santos de la Universidad de Coimbra, Portugal.

Financiado con $24.6 millones del gobierno federal y alrededor de $21 millones por las universidades de la coalición y sus socios estratégicos, el Instituto Canadiense de los Recursos Internacionales y el Desarrollo – CIRDI (por sus siglas en inglés, y antes llamado CIIEID) – ha sido objeto de oposición constante tanto por académicos como de la sociedad civil.

La petición que está dirigida a los Presidentes y la junta administradora de la Universidad de la Columbia Británica, la Universidad de Simón Fraser y la Escuela Politécnica de Montreal, específicamente menciona que: la pérdida de la libertad académica, la representación parcializada, conflictos de interés, la falta de credibilidad, de confianza, y de rendición de cuentas son las razones para salir del acuerdo con el gobierno federal. Destaca que los signatarios ven dañino los vínculos de universidades con una industria que se encuentra rechazada por varias comunidades en Canadá y en todo el mundo por sus impactos destructivos en comunidades y en el medio ambiente.

CIRDI es un proyecto con orígenes en la oficina del Primer Ministro cuando en 2013 la coalición de tres universidades firmó un acuerdo con el gobierno federal para gestionar el instituto con el mandato de intervenir en “las políticas, leyes, desarrollo e implementación regulatorio, capacitación, asistencia técnica e investigación aplicada relacionada a sus propios sectores extractivos de los países en vías de desarrollo.”

Una incoherencia fundamental en el mandato de CIRDI es que los sectores extractivos de los llamados “países en vías de desarrollo”  están compuestos en mayoría por transnacionales basadas en Canadá. Las comunidades indígenas, no indígenas, y organizaciones de base en solidaridad con los pueblos afectados por proyectos extractivos han hecho continuos llamados para tomar cartas en el asunto y poner fin a la impunidad de las empresas canadienses. Así mismo, han exigido mecanismos de rendición de cuentas en la legislación canadiense para que dichas empresas se hagan responsables en nuestras cortes por los abusos cometidos en el extranjero.

Ahora académicos, ex-alumnos y miembros de la comunidad impactados en Canadá y América Latina han dejado en claro a los que toman las decisiones en las universidades que en vez de intentar reparar un experimento irremisiblemente defectuoso y dañino, es hora de establecer un precedente y disolver el CIRDI y promover en su lugar investigación sobre el rol y los impactos que tiene el extractivismo canadiense en el extranjero y que sea realmente libre de conflictos de intereses.

La carta destaca que “un instituto apropiado debería rendir cuentas a las comunidades impactadas por proyectos extractivos, y enfatizaría sus derechos al consentimiento libre, previo e informado, el cual incluye el derecho de rechazar cualquier proyecto extractivo. El enfoque apropiado de tal instituto sería sobre la responsabilidad de Canadá en los conflictos causados por la extracción de recursos, tanto en Canadá como en el extranjero, así como abordar la escasa rendición de cuentas por las multinacionales canadienses acusadas de alguna participación en abusos en el extranjero.”

Los signatarios de la carta de petición esperan que la Junta Directiva se comprometa a disolver el Instituto Internacional Canadiense de Desarrollo de Recursos.

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Más información: La página web de estudiantes contiene información sobre CIRDI, análisis, recomendaciones, un comunicado abierto y un blog con información actualizada sobre la campaña para disolver el instituto. Vean también la página web de CIRDI y este informe de marzo de 2014 de MiningWatch Canadá sobre el nuevo instituto (entonces llamado CIIEID).

Ver el texto completo de la petición aquí.


Información general:

An open communiqué for mining-affected communities regarding CIRDI

Since September 2013, students at UBC and SFU have been working to determine exactly what’s the plan with what’s now being called the Canadian International Resources and Development Institute (CIRDI), until recently called the Canadian International Institute for the Extractive Industries and Development (CIIEID).

Critical analysis of the limited information that’s been released leads to some damning conclusions: CIRDI appears to be a mining, oil, and gas industry think-tank with aims of helping Canadian transnationals’ competitive advantage in resource-rich nations, thinly disguised as an academic unit focused on extractive sector policy and legislation in foreign countries.

UBC and SFU students identify this as a problem.

It’s a problem for our universities to host CIRDI. Its mandate, leadership structure, partner network, and lack of transparency lead us to identify CIRDI as equipped only to serve the interests of the Canada-based transnational extractive sector at the expense of communities and countries already made vulnerable by foreign intervention.

Back in June, we published a post identifying the need for an open communiqué that shares some information on CIRDI, outlines our concerns, and clearly lays out how we identify CIRDI as a threat to the well-being of communities and their environment any place where Canadian mining, oil, and gas transnationals have interests. We’ve now published it in English and in Spanish on our website. It’s also being distributed to communities and grass-roots organizations outside of Canada through an extensive network of solidarity organizations.

If you’re concerned that CIRDI or its partners may be pursuing projects in an area that speaks another language (specifically Mongolian, Vietnamese, Quechua, any of the Mayan languages, and French), and you can volunteer to translate the document, please connect with us at

To support the communique, we’re also publishing a regularly-updated list of universities, academic units, NGOs, individuals, extractive sector companies and consultants, and industry associations that are linked with CIRDI.

As these individuals and organizations formally withdraw their support from CIRDI, or as people leave their management or directorial positions with the Institute, we’ll remove their names. Similarly, as we find out more information (say, through Freedom of Information requests), we’ll update the page accordingly.

For more information on CIRDI, concerns raised, recommendations made, and the current petition to just close it, please explore the rest of the Stop the Institute site.

Communiqué identifying CIRDI as a threat [PDF-English]

Comunicado identificando al CIRDI como una amenaza [PDF-Español]

The partner list is available here (and here in Spanish).

Film screening and discussion at UBC: Wixáritari indigenous resistance to Canadian-based mining

On November 28, Wixáritari representatives will visit UBC, on unceded Musqueam territory, for a presentation of the documentary Huicholes: The Last Peyote Guardians.

The director Hernan Vilchez and two Mara’kate (Huichol spiritual leaders), the father and son protagonists José Luis Ramírez and Enrique Ramirez, will introduce and discuss the film. Members of Stop the Institute will also be present.

This event is being organized by the UBC Social Justice Centre. It is endorsed by Mining Justice Alliance.

Event information

The event will be taking place this Friday from 12:00 to 3:00 PM in room 098 of the Henry Angus Building, 2053 Main Mall, University of British Columbia (unceded Musqueam territory).

Film information

Wirikuta is one of the most sacred sites for the Wixáritari indigenous people of Northern Mexico, the place where the Sun first rose into the sky and the world was created. Every year the Wixáritari conduct a sacred pilgrimage of over 400 km, fasting and consuming peyote in order to commune with the ancient Gods.

Since 2009, multiple mining concessions have been granted by the Mexican government to multinational corporations to exploit the area of Wirikuta. La Luz Silver Project is a proposed venture by Vancouver-based First Majestic Silver, which would effectively destroy these sacred grounds.



C-I-E-I-O honchos change the Institute’s acronym to CIRDI: still nobody’s fooled.

Brainstorm for new C-I-E-I-O name

The Prime Minister’s Office assigned the ill-fated group the acronym CIIEID, but the order in which the first letters of the Canadian International Institute for the Extractive Industries and Development fit together are the least of its troubles.

Its mandate makes it another imperialist experiment; academic freedom is excluded from its charter; obvious conflicts of interest rule its list of strategic partnerships with mining companies and industry associations; its leadership and funding structure strongly favor these transnationals’ interests; and those with the most to lose from another multi-million dollar Big Canadian mining, oil, or gas project in so-called developing countries have no place in its decision-making.

But, oh look, a red herring! So about this acronym.

We’d love to know how much of the CIIEID’s $24.6M federally-assigned budget has been spent on the branding consultant hired to give the extractives lobby a gentler-sounding name. Forget whether the crack team leading the group can agree on how to pronounce the acronym; it seems like removing the words “extractive industry” was the point. It’s now called the Canadian International Resources and Development Institute (acronym: CIRDI), and we wonder whether the word “and” distracts from what the Institute really is about.

The Lobby Group Formerly Known as CIIEID (acronym: TLGFKC) is far more preoccupied with acronyms than it is with addressing the links between Canadian extractive companies and the structural sources of inequality, poverty, crime, corruption, and hunger. In fact it has on its website infinitely more pages dedicated to acronyms than to genuine inquiry into the real problems with unquestioned support for the predacious practices of companies in Canada’s extractive industries. Yes, check out CIRDI’s acronyms page here.

We’d love to know how much of the budget has been spent on their acronym consultant, but hey, value-added web links for each one!

In his article How do you say CIIEID? Phonetic hurdle forces mining school’s name change, iPolitics journalist James Munson recently poked fun at CIRDI’s The Power of a Name announcement, and how transcendental the rebranding is perceived by the group’s leadership.

There’s a lot of neat buzzwords we’re sure these guys had on the table, and the only trouble seems to have been getting them in an order that rolls off the tongue better than the rest. The colorful word-cloud below represents what we bet were some of the top contenders that describe what’ll prove to be a short-lived experiment in Turning Universities into Industry Stooges for Transnational Extractives Development (acronym: TUISTED).

Power in an acronym wordcloud