Thunder Bay

Video represents 'all that is really sick about the mining industry', Pam Palmater says

A promotional video for a mining company featuring young women in bikini tops is "disgusting" and has one expert calling on government to explore what she says is a link between mining companies and sexual violence against Indigenous women.

First Nations women draw link between 'sex sells' attitude and missing, murdered Indigenous women

Pam Palmater, a Mi'kmaw lawyer, author, professor and political pundit, says mining company KWG is sexualizing women to promote mining for profit on Indigenous lands. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

A promotional video for a mining company featuring young women in bikini tops is "disgusting" and has one expert calling on government to explore what she says is a link between mining companies and sexual violence against Indigenous women.

The one-minute video appears on KWG Resources Youtube channel and shows two scantily-clad women talking about the Ring of Fire mining project in part of northern Ontario where much of the land is claimed by First Nations.

In one scene, a woman identified only as Ashley sits on a swing and says: "First Nations is [sic] interested in sharing in the resources of Ontario's Ring of Fire."

"The video is a very damning statement about KWG Resources to sexualize women to promote mining for profit on Indigenous lands," said Pamela Palmater, the Chair of Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University. "It represents all that is really sick about the mining industry."

Two mining industry groups have condemned the KWG video calling it "absurd" and "tasteless."

The model who created and appears in the video told CBC News she didn't intend it to be offensive.

"We actually were sitting around in our bikinis and then we decided let's put on some shorts and we'll present this in a way that is fun and lighthearted," said Theresa Longo, who has made a series called Mining Minute for KWG.

'Just disgusting'

The Ring of Fire is not a lighthearted topic for Jennifer Wabano, from Peawanuk First Nation because the proposed mining development will affect the watershed that dozens of First Nations in Ontario rely on.

Jennifer Wabano from Peawanuk First Nation says the KWG video is deeply disrespectful to First Nations people. (submitted by Jennifer Wabano)
"It's like Indigenous people are a joke, the way they engaged in that video, the way the models were, it's just ridiculous," Wabano said. "The models are half-naked. That's not how we engage when speaking about something that is sacred to us, especially the water."

The president of KWG Resources, Frank Smeenk, defended the video by saying, "sex sells."

"It's just disgusting for them to say that especially when our lands waters and First Nations lives are at stake," Wabano said. "That attitude is part of the reason our women go missing or murdered."

Palmater expressed similar concerns.

"I hope that the national inquiry on murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls takes a close look at the correlation between sexualized violence and mining/oil and extractive industry camps," she said.

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