Friday, July 13, 2007

Wildsight Financial Summary

Wildsight is an environmental advocacy group headquartered in Kimberly BC. It is an active participant in East Kootenay land use discussions and decisions. It is a registered charity and is required to file annual financial returns with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

A financial summary extracted from its CRA filings is shown below. Wildsight does not disclose this financial information in its annual report on its web site.

Annual expenditures$454,100$453,500$539,600$489,100$646,100$708,300$848,305$629,239
Membership revenue$4,100$3,900$8,500$5,800$5,000$8,900$8,171$11,084

Clearly membership revenue is a very small part of the organization’s annual financial resources.

Grants from foundations, corporations, and governments make up substantially all of its financial
resources. However, individual donations are not disclosed in Canada even though their US foundation donors annually disclose their donations as part of their annual US filings. The scale of Wildsight’s financial resources allows it to have an influential, if not overwhelming, influence on land use decisions in the East Kootenays. Wildsight should be encouraged to publish annual financial statements on its website. Further, it should be encouraged to publish a list of donors and donations. It’s ironic that those foundations in the US disclose their donations, but that same information is not listed on Wildsight’s web page. This information should be made available to the community so that it can judge whether donors are unduly influencing Wildsight’s advocacy position.

What sort of political influence and override are US-based funding foundations buying?

A sampling of anonymous foreign foundation grants to Wildsight

  • Wilburforce
    2008 - $75,000 - Flathead Wild Campaign
    2007 - $25,000 - Southeast BC Grizzly Bear DNA Inventory
    2007 - $50,000 - Flathead Wild Campaign
    2006 - $120,000 - Flathead Park
    Also - $470,000 to CPAWS and Wilderness Conservation Society for Y2Y
  • Lazar Foundation
    2008 - $20,000 - Protect Wilderness
    2007 - $20,000 - Control threats from motorized use & development
    2006 - $20,000 - Wilderness, stop development
    2005 - $15,000 - Wilderness recreation
    campaign 2004 - $15,000 - Wilderness recreation campaign
  • Kendal Foundation
    2005 - $40,000 - Y2Y Campaign
    2004 - $30,000 - Y2Y Campaign also -
    $300,000 to Y2Y Conservation Initiative, Canmore AB
  • Woodcock Foundation
    2007 - $230,000 - Y2Y
    2006 - $400,000 - Y2Y and "several organizations"
  • Brainerd Foundation
    2008 - $50,000 - Protect wildlife connectivity in the Flathead
    2007 - $25,000 - Protect connectivity in Flathead River watershed
    2006 - $20,000 - Instill conservation as cultural ethic
    2005 - $25,000 - Build broad-based demand for public "consultation" about CBM
    2002 - $60,000 - Support Southern Rockies Wildlife Conservation Area
    2000 - $26,000 - Support capacity building tools
  • Bullitt Foundation
    2007 - $35,000 - General support grant
    2006 - $35,000 - General support grant
    2005 - $25,000 - "Advocacy work" in the Easty Kootenay region
  • Yves Rocher Foundation
    Amounts not posted
  • 444S Foundation Amounts not posted

Who else do these foundations fund?

Why would a handfull of wealthy American donors choose to anonymously donate millions in this way? Should they have special access and influence in land-use and political process than you and I as citizens and taxpayers and residents?

Is this what it means to "Think globally, act locally"?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Wildlife Act changes with the times

Wildlife Act changes with the times

By: Les Layne
Victoria Time Colonist
July 4, 2007

East Kootenay MLA Bill Bennett deals with the same range of issues most other politicians do, but finds there's one topic that stands out above all others.

It's wildlife. Hardly top of mind among urban dwellers, unless you count bear and coyote encounters in Greater Vancouver, and routine deer vandalism in Victoria. (Personal disclosure: The barren moonscape that used to be my vegetable garden is very much top of my mind.)

But in what used to be known as the heartlands, wildlife is very close to home. "There's no other thing I've encountered that attracts as much passion," Bennett said.

He knows whereof he speaks. It was wildlife management that prompted his flaming e-mail to a constituent last year, which in turn brought about his resignation from cabinet.

So the discussion forum set up to collect input on a proposed rewrite of B.C.'s Wildlife Act is bristling with ideas, criticisms and observations on what the government has in mind.

The idea is to bring the act up to date. It hasn't been updated in 25 years, and the world has changed quite a bit since then. There's been a quarter-century more development and encroachment on wild lands. And people are another generation removed from nature. The number of hunting and fishing licences issued is at an all-time low.

But the remaining outdoors people are intensely interested, to the point where the consultation period for the Wildlife Act review has been extended another few weeks, to July 15. (Try

Partly it's because Environment Minister Barry Penner met with various Vancouver Island First Nations and heard a number of concerns about how they felt left out of the Wildlife Act as it stands. Although their constitutional rights to access are recognized, some traditional practices weren't taken into account. Penner said the native bands are keenly interested in recommending some changes, so the time was extended.

The government decided to extend the consultation even longer for primary stakeholders. Various outdoors groups can submit arguments until the end of August.

Bennett occupied his time after leaving cabinet by forming the B.C. outdoors caucus, in order to champion wildlife and related causes. He stays in touch with those outdoors groups and said they are keen to see some fundamental stands written into the act.

Priority access for residents, for one thing. The ranking principles now, according to policy, are: Conservation, First Nations access, B.C. residents' access and non-resident access to the resource.

But that's policy, not a statutory requirement. Enshrining preferential access for B.C. residents would ease some people's minds.

Recognizing a right to hunt and fish is also on the agenda. Bennett once introduced a private member's bill to that effect. Installing that in the Wildlife Act is also on the wish list, given that there is more opposition to the whole concept than there once was. One contributor said it was "absolutely disgusting" that the government is trying to encourage more people to go hunting.

There's also an odd wrinkle in the list of concerns. Most of the routine policy decisions related to wildlife are made by regional managers. Some groups have concern about a lack of uniformity across B.C., since each manager makes decisions based on personal experience.

There is a call now for more decisions to be made by the minister, which is the first time anyone has recommended more power and decision-making be vested in Victoria.

Apart from high-level changes in policy and law, there are also some practical changes in the works that people may notice on the ground.

A new tax on eco-tourism that features commercial wildlife viewing is being contemplated. That sector is gaining increasing significance and the government has developed standards and guidelines to prevent conflicts from developing and to ensure the impact is minimal. But the thinking is that hunters and anglers already pay a surcharge on licences to the Habitat Conservation Trust Fund. Why shouldn't sightseers?

There's also some new thinking on wildlife-human conflicts. The discussion paper concedes that translocation of nuisance animals has proven ineffective. Lately they've been favouring local release of such animals.

In addition, the government has been working with farmers on pilot projects that allow for deer and elk hunts where the animals are damaging crops. That has led to a recommendation that the hunting licence system be modified to facilitate hunting on farmland to control problem wildlife.

If the ministry can follow the current timetable, all the work under way will lead to the introduction of a new Wildlife Act next spring.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Impoverished peoples speak out against anti mining

Impoverished peoples speak out against anti mining - 02nd July '07'
Featured News

In another example of an NGO seeking to speak for people who do not want or condone the interference, the following is a letter supplied by Corriente Resources that was written and sent by Rubén Naichap, President of the Shuar Federation of Zamora Chinchipe (the indigenous people of Corriente's project area in Ecuadorto) to Joan Kuyek, National Co-ordinator of Mining Watch Canada:

Re: Mining Watch's Support for Economic, Cultural and Social Genocide of the Shuar People

As the President of the Shuar Federation of Zamora Chinchipe representing the political, social, cultural and economic interests of 55 Shuar (Indigenous) communities, it is with great disappointment, outrage and anger that I write this letter to you and your organization for supporting the cultural, social and economic genocide of the Shuar people. As you or may not be aware, the Shuar people have lived within the Amazon Rainforest since time immemorial and since contact with the European and Mestizo peoples we have lived in crushing generational poverty. Since the early days of contact up until the present day, our people have been subjected to systemic racism, intense discrimination and have endured all the evils that poverty can force upon a people. As a result of this, our weary, but very proud people have raised their voice in support of responsible mining as a tool for development and we stand together against poverty and its dire impacts to our families, culture, health and our environment. As the original people of the Ecuadorian Rainforest we want and deserve a better quality of life and we will achieve this goal through partnerships with responsible Canadian mining companies like EcuaCorriente S.A.

Over the past year, I have followed your web-based commentaries on the mining situation in Ecuador particularly comments related to the situation of mining in the Zamora Chinchipe Province. Your postings about mining in our region are appalling, inaccurate and untruthful. I am certain that the institutions and Canadian public who support your organization would be horrified if they knew your activities supported the cultural, economic and social destruction of our people. I am also certain that they would be very interested in learning how you and your organization have distorted the facts and continue to support organizations and individuals who actively promote violence and illegal acts towards law-abiding responsible mining companies and towards Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in our province.

I recently visited Canada and met with several Indigenous organizations and leaders and as I suspected, there were many positive relationships between the natural resource sector and First Nations communities. As a result of this visit, I was able to see first hand how Canadian Indigenous peoples and natural resource extraction companies have built positive relations which in turn have yielded tremendous benefits for communities and industry. I was also fortunate enough to see a video produced by SanGold Resources (a gold mining operation in Southern Manitoba) where responsible mining is supported by National Chief Phil Fontaine (of the Assembly of First Nations) and other prominent Manitoba First Nations leaders and how over 80% of the workforce of SanGold is Aboriginal. This video and examples I saw in Canada clearly demonstrate how industry and Indigenous communities work together for common benefit.

As well, my Indigenous colleagues also shared with me that there are many Canadian non-government organizations that have taken advantage of the lack of capacity of First Nations people and prevented them from building mutually beneficial, respectful and sound economic partnerships with industry and that these same NGOs have offered First Nations communities nothing in return but empty promises and continued poverty. This is indeed reminiscent of our situation where international NGOs such as yours lend support or come to Ecuador and offer little relief from the agonizing poverty that our people have and continue to endure. That said, we have learned, from our own experiences with NGOs and from the experiences of Canada's First Nations people, to be mindful of the interests of the NGO community as they at times have different motives and agendas from those of our communities.

As the leader of the Shuar Federation of Zamora Chinchipe, the actions of your organization in supporting illegal and violent activities against the Shuar will not silence our impoverished, but proud people and we will share the truth about your organization and how it is a merely a tool to keep the Shuar and other Indigenous peoples in Southern Ecuador poor, in despair and without hope. Today our people walk barefoot on immense mineral wealth (75,000 Mlb of copper, 12 Moz of gold and millions of ounces of silver) within our territories, but we cannot access it as your organization continues to actively support illegal activities of organizations and individuals who have and continue to act outside of Ecuadorian law and show little respect and regard for the rights of our people.

On your website, you endorsed, promoted and supported a small group of individuals who marched on the EcuaCorriente camp (December 3, 2006) with the intention of burning down their exploration camp, yet you failed to report the truth and facts surrounding this unwarranted invasion of the camp and of our Ecuadorian military base. As you are keenly aware, the only access to the EcuaCorriente exploration camp is through the military base (two check points) as there is only one road leading in and one road leading out. In your article, you failed to mention that the attack was by an unruly, heavily intoxicated, well armed mob (who were paid by sources unknown) to attack our military personnel and to destroy the EcuaCorriente camp. As well, you also did not mention that the leader of this mob (Salvador Quishpe a rogue Deputy from the Province of Zamora Chinchipe) just weeks prior to the invasion was an adamant supporter of EcuaCorriente and the opportunities the company brought to our province.

What our organization has found very questionable concerning Quishpe is why did he suddenly have a change in heart towards mining? Why did Quishpe decide to stop a project that has supported the building of new schools for our communities, has provided post-secondary educational scholarships to our children, supported the Shuar virtual marketplace, is assisting in the development of a Shuar radio station, and is assisting the Shuar in protecting our forests from continued and unabated destruction due to poverty? It is indeed very strange to see Quishpe's very sudden change of heart in support of mining, but we do suspect that Quishpe's interests in becoming anti-mining and his decision to lead this mob was not on behalf of our communities, but rather for his own self-serving interests.

Again, I am appalled and outraged that your organization would present untrue and inaccurate information and criticize the responsible mining activities of EcuaCorriente, who prior to being suspended by the Government of Ecuador (due to the illegal and violent occupation led by Quishpe), employed over 300 local people and paid more that four times the minimum Ecuadorian wage of $130.00 per month. These jobs were vital to our workers and their families as over 98% of our people live in poverty (less than $1.00 per day). It is incredible, irresponsible and criminal for your organization to support and report on such untruthful events relating to the invasion of EcuaCorriente's properties and to continue to support individuals and organizations who are violent, self-serving and wish only to prevent development and as a result keep our people in the shackles of poverty.

As well, I suspect that under Canadian law, if a group of individuals decided to take it upon themselves to lead an armed and violent occupation against a Canadian military base with the intention to cause physical harm to military personnel and attack the civilian population and private property that the action of the Canadian military would be swift and just in correcting this unlawful and treasonous activity. As well, your web-site articles fail to mention that several military personnel were seriously harmed and permanently injured and that Quishpe used his congressional immunity from being prosecuted by the Ecuadorian military and the Ecuadorian State. Furthermore, the Shuar people are outraged at this attack on our military that we hold in the highest regard and respect, as they fought shoulder to shoulder with our Arutam Warriors in defending our territories and country from invasion by the Peruvian military in the mid-1990s.

I also think it's relevant that I inform you and the Canadian people of the realities of life for the Shuar and Ecuadorian people. The Shuar have an infant mortality rate of 3 per 1000, our life expectancy hovers around 50 years of age, the majority of our communities lack basic services and our rain forest (the lungs of the planet) is being destroyed because of poverty in our region. Our people and our Mestizo neighbors understand basic economics - the only way for people to make money is to cut the forest down and produce lumber so that we can feed our families. In our country, 3.5 million Ecuadorian people have been forced to live abroad and send money home to support their families; including over 200,000 Ecuadorians in Ontario alone as our nation's poverty rate hovers around 70%. The sending home of money to our families is the largest industry in Ecuador, accounting for over $2 billion per annum. The impact of separation of our family members working abroad continues to increase and cause detrimental, generational and adverse social impacts to our families and culture as we do not have work in Ecuador and now we have less than 12 years of oil reserves left to support what little social programming we have in our country.

From my earlier comments, you are now aware, in the Amazon region alone there is tens of billions of dollars worth of gold, silver and copper and it is our intention to access these resources in a responsible manner and in partnership with EcuaCorriente and other responsible mining companies. At this time, our organization is working on the development and implementation of several Impact Benefit Agreements (IBA's) which will be closely modeled after those found in First Nations communities in Canada. These IBA's will ensure that our culture and environment is protected and that our people benefit in terms of employment and procurement from all copper and gold mining projects in our territories. In fact, EcuaCorriente has been exemplary in ensuring that Shuar people of the Zamora Chinchipe Province have been informed and included in their exploration and construction projects.

In addition to employment, EcuaCorriente has and continues to support numerous social, cultural, environmental and infrastructure projects within our communities and the region and as a result we are in full support of the $340 million dollars they plan to invest in the Mirador copper mining project. As well, your website fails to mention that EcuaCorriente's Mirador Project will create 1,000 construction jobs, 500 direct mining jobs and an additional 3,000 in-direct well-paid jobs for our people.

The Mirador Project is a hand-up for our people - not a handout and the jobs and opportunities created from this project will go a long way in feeding our very hungry people. We also know that the millions of dollars paid in taxes by EcuaCorriente's operations will greatly assist our local, regional and national governments in delivering desperately needed health care, social and infrastructure projects.

In closing, your continued support and the raising of funds against the Mirador project amounts to nothing more than the continuation of poverty and the social, cultural and economic genocide of Indigenous peoples in the Zamora-Chinchipe Region. I also think it is very relevant for you to visit our communities if you plan to continue reporting on mining activities in our region. I am quite certain that if you had visited our communities (prior to issuing your reports) and heard and seen for yourself how the Mirador project has positively impacted our communities, that you would have immediately stopped your support for the illegal and violent anti-mining activities within our region. Unfortunately for our people, you continue to support these small self-serving groups who do not represent our people and the Shuar Federation of Zamora Chinchipe will ensure that the Ecuadorian Government, the Canadian people, and the Global community know the truth about how your organization supports and aids those individuals who keep our people in crushing poverty.