Youth Blog Series: All That Glitters

Be the Change’s Youth Blog Series highlights blogs written by university student interns at Be the Change Earth Alliance. In the blogs, the interns reflect on their experience completing “Action Packs,” which are learning resources that guide students in research, critical thinking and tangible action related to a global sustainability topic.

Action Pack Summary

75% of the world’s mining companies are based in Canada, yet many Canadians are unaware of the profound impacts of the industry on human and natural communities. The All That Glitters Action Pack provides students with key information and engaging activities related to the issue of mining in Canada and abroad. 

Upon completing this Action Pack, students will gain greater understanding of the phases of mining as well as the social, environmental and economic costs of various mining methods. The vast extent of physical damages, contamination, safety and human rights risks will be highlighted- with a focus on critically examining how improvements can be made in an industry that very often slips under the radar. Students will learn that it is not just precious gems which are mined; everyday items are made with materials mined from the earth, such as tin, copper, and iron. 

This Action Pack focuses on why Canada has developed a strong mining sector, and consequently, why Canada has been involved in various national and international mining-related injustices. From the Barrick Gold Corporation mine in Papua New Guinea associated with fatal shootings and beatings of indigenous women, to the proposed New Prosperity Gold Mine in British Columbia which ignored indigenous land claims and almost destroyed culturally significant Fish Lake, students will take away key examples of Canada’s complicity in mining injustices, and the necessary actions required to prevent them, such as personal vows to sustainably mined goods, and mining-justice advocacy with businesses and governments.

My Reflection

This Action Pack guided me in research into the armed conflicts associated with mining of many diamonds, metals and gemstones. I have committed to never buying jewelry that contains these products. I promised myself to only buy ethically sourced and produced jewelry, prioritizing recycled metals and lab grown diamonds and crystals. I have also chosen to buy items second-hand that use the mined natural resources I have learned about. 

I had previously researched ethically made jewelry when I was looking into getting new jewelry. I was shocked to find that the industry was rife with injustice, not only socially, but also environmentally. My research highlighted that even socially responsible mining can come with significant destruction. Moving forward, I feel the need to avoid using mined goods, even if they are fair trade. If I do use products requiring mined materials I wil make sure that they are recycled and also environmentally sustainable.