Marching Against Minerals

Montreal’s Congolese Community Angered at High Death Rate of Miners

  • Photo Corey Pool.

Technology and telecommunication companies were the targets of a demonstration Jan. 7 that saw roughly 200 people take to the streets of Montreal. Protesters rallied against Canada’s involvement in mineral mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“We want people to know what is happening in the Congo right now,” said Guy Ngoyi, one of the organizers of the demonstration. “Over eight million people have died so far because of [mineral mining,] and we are outside today to say ‘enough is enough.’”

The DRC is a country rich in mineral resources, and over the past few decades wealthy western countries have been mining in the DRC for these precious minerals.

One of the rarest of the minerals is coltan, which is most commonly used in the production of cell phones and computers.

“Why are people dying because of coltan?” said Ngoyi. “These companies need coltan to make cell phones, so we’ve come to these companies to deliver our message.”

The march first stopped outside of the Apple store on St. Catherine Street for almost 45 minutes, blocking the front door and preventing people from entering. The group also stopped in front of Fido, Rogers, and Bell stores to demonstrate.

The boisterous crowd carried banners and posters, and had a group of drummers that led chants and dances throughout the demonstration. The event was peaceful.

Though Ngoyi played a large role in organizing the demonstration, he explained that he does not represent any official organization.

“We just sent emails and text messages to the Congolese community in Montreal asking everyone to come outside today. It happened very spontaneously,” he said.

Though the group claims no official title, they do have a plan to continue demonstrating.

“Every week you’re going to hear from us,” said Ngoyi. “Today we passed our message on to the cell phone companies; next week it will be the embassies, and so on.”

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