chewing on tinfoil

from activist group vigil to shareholder meetings, can a multinational aluminum company be addressed personally?

photo by nobuko egawa,

excerpted from the print magazine…

When I was a kid my dad was laid off from Alcan, a Canadian aluminum company. That winter my mom bought powdered milk; we added water. No one died. I moved away and forgot about aluminum.

It is winter and I am a student in debt. One blustery Montréal morning, transfixed by the swarming snow, I come across a vigil. Three people from Orissa, India have been killed protesting a proposed bauxite (a mineral refined into aluminum) mine on their land. Alcan’t, a small Montréal collective that, after hearing that Canadian-owned Alcan holds 45 percent of the shares of this project, decides to take a stand: they enact a vigil. My lexicon of opinions fails to form a thought. Engaged and aware, these protesters baffle me. They claim they are responsible for the collective acts of Alcan, a company they do not work for, nor directly benefit in. They speak up for people some 20,000 kilometres away. Where does their power to respond come from?

People respond. Voices are heard. Media picks it up. Alcan has blood on its hands. Twelve years of protest, twelve years of pain. This is not what Alcan wants to claim…

anne read is a poet, a student and ascent magazine’s circulation manager. On her days off she practises disappearing and is currently learning to walk through walls.

Copyright ©2007 ascent magazine, first Canadian yoga magazine, yoga for an inspired life