OPIRG and SAID present : readings by Paula Butler and Yves Engler

This Thursday, January 21st, Canada’s positive international image in regards to Africa will be challenged.

OPIRG, The Council of Canadians, and the Student Association for International Development (SAID) have come together in a collaborative event that will feature book readings from Trent University Professor, Paula Butler, and from “Canada’s version of Noam Chomsky,” Yves Engler.

Paula Butler will be reading from her most recent book, Colonial Extractions: Race and Canadian Mining in Contemporary Africa. The book explores the discourses and narratives through which Canadian mining activities in Africa are legitimized and provides a sharp critique of Canada’s mining industry overseas.

Actively challenging the myth of Canadian benevolence, Butler uses critical race and post-colonial theory to argue that Canada’s mining industry operates within a continued colonial mindset over resource ownership and racialized dominance of people of color and indigenous peoples.

Bonnie Campbell of the Universite du Quebec has noted, “Not all will welcome the analysis presented…. Colonial Extractions is a ground-breaking contribution that will serve as a landmark for years to come.”

Also critiquing Canada’s foreign affairs in the African context, Yves Engler will be reading from one of his multiple books on the issue, Canada In Africa: 300 Years of Aid and Exploitation.  The book presents an analysis of the past and the present of Canadian foreign policy. This analysis centers around the mining complex and Canada’s role in the process of resource extraction abroad, domestic shares, and the ability to influence politics within the African nations in which its mining companies operate.

Concluding that Canada is an imperialist abuser of human rights, Engler’s analysis includes Canada’s opposition to a number of colonial struggles and its support for the apartheid in South Africa. He also writes on Canada’s involvement in the imposition of neoliberal prescriptions in Africa and in the violence that occurred in Somalia, Rwanda and in Congo. Additionally, Engler notes that the nation’s ongoing indifference to climate change will have significant repercussion in the African continent.

Jim Miles from the Foreign Policy Journal wrote “If you ever wondered why Africa remains mired in poverty, war, and terrorist exploitation, Canada in Africa delivers a strong answer,” in his review of the book.

Both authors deliver a highly controversial view of Canada that directly challenges the nation’s widespread benevolent image. By shedding light primarily on Canada’s mining activity and its multiple components, Engler and Butler present a complex and little-known analysis of Canada’s contentious foreign policy.

The book reading will be held in the Gathering Space in Gzowski College on Thursday, January 21st from 7pm – 9pm. The renowned authors will be introduced by International Development Professor, Baris Karaagac, and will read sections of their books. The event will also feature ample time for questions and discussion with the authors themselves.

Additionally, both, Colonial Extractions: Race and Canadian Mining in Contemporary Africa and Canada In Africa: 300 Years of Aid and Exploitation will be available for purchase at this event.

Whether you agree or not with Butler and Engler’s daunting views of Canada’s involvement in Africa, the event is sure to spur debate and provide for an interesting evening full of controversy and