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The Goldcorp Arts Centre in the Woodwards Building: Site of Displacement and Shame

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A Mayan baby with a rash on his arm which his parents say is caused by Goldcorp's Marlin mine // Rights Action
A Mayan baby with a rash on his arm which his parents say is caused by Goldcorp's Marlin mine // Rights Action

This morning, Vancouver based mining company Goldcorp announced that they would be donating $10 million to Simon Fraser University to fund the school's arts centre in the already controversial Woodwards building in the Downtown East Side. The school will be known as the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts.

Goldcorp officials, of course, worked hard to spin the donation into yet another indication of their generosity and benevolence towards marginalized communities. After all, what could possibly be wrong with charity?

"Goldcorp is committed to making a positive difference here in Vancouver as well as those communities where we operate our mines," said Goldcorp President and Chief Executive Officer Chuck Jeannes, in a press release this morning.

For anyone who has looked into Goldcorp's operations, this statement smacks of the arrogance and impunity with which they build and operate mines, and leave behind toxic sites, displaced villages, and poisoned and impoverished communities.

In Honduras, Goldcorp's San Martin mine poisoned community members in the Siria Valley, displaced an entire village from their lands, and affected the water supply to the extent that farming and ranching families were forced to migrate out of the area, either to Tegucigalpa or to the U.S.

In Guatemala, the company's Marlin mine is located on what was previously communally held Indigenous Mayan Mam and Mayan Sipakapense lands. The project began amid bloody repression, as one person was killed by police at a roadblock preventing mine construction. Recently, the Inter American Human Rights Commission ruled that the Marlin mine must shut down, but the company has refused to abide by their ruling. Villagers in the surrounding area have lived through deep and sometimes violent conflicts related to the mine, which flared up recently when a company employee shot mine opponent Antonia Hernandez Cinto in the face. All around the mine site, people are contracting illnesses from suspected toxins in the water and in the air.

In Mexico, the company just opened the Peñasquito mine, the country's biggest. Already, conflict around the mine is starting to simmer in the state of Zacatecas, as neighbors and communal land holders begin to understand the size of the project in a semi-arid area.

In Argentina, people have been organizing against the Bajo de la Alumbrera mine for years. They say the contamination of the mine, combined with electricity and water use, have made life in their villages unbearable.

In California, the company recently lost a Chapter 11 dispute under NAFTA. They claimed they had every right to bulldoze sacred Quechen Indigenous sites, and that the U.S. government should pay the company for forcing them to mitigate the damage done in sacred areas.

There are many more stories about how Goldcorp really treats the communities where it operates, a sample of which are contained in a booklet I worked on a couple of years ago called Investing in Conflict.

Something I realized after having done work on and off for a few years with Goldcorp-affected communities in Honduras and Guatemala was that companies really don't care what community members think of their projects. I mean sure, they'll try. They'll try and convince people, to buy them off, to build them schools or churches (evangelical ones) or whatever.

But if the people are firm, and they stand their ground, any mining, oil, forestry, and you name it company will poison them, displace them, wound them, jail them, and even kill them to get to the resources that they, through deals made with illegitimate and corrupted states, consider to be theirs. When things get to this point, the company can lean on the state government (to which they are sometimes even the largest taxpayer) to get the local police and army to keep the locals in check.

The people that companies really care about convincing, at this point, are North Americans. You know, working people, Americans and especially Canadians who invest their pensions in Goldcorp. Honestly, they do a pretty good job up here in the city, far away from the hellholes they've dug: the Ethical Funds Company even says that Goldcorp shares are an ethical investment. Seen in that light, buying their name onto an arts school in Canada's poorest off reserve postal code makes perfect sense.

Here's Chuck Jeannes again, from today's press release: "Vancouver's Downtown Eastside has become one of Canada's most depressed neighbourhoods, and we are optimistic that by working with Simon Fraser University, we will be able to reach out to its businesses and residents to help create a more sustainable future."

Goldcorp isn't a company that cares about human or social sustainability. They are, like every other transnational corporation out there, an organization that cares about their bottom line. SFU Arts should be ashamed of taking this money from Goldcorp, a company that values human life, communities and ecosystems far less than it does gold.

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W2 partnership with SFU Art School still active?

Last year W2, who took Olympic money, announced a partnership with SFU at Woodwards.

Here's a quote from SFU Art School director Martin Gotfrit from the Georgia Straight:

Not only will students have access to improved resources, Gotfrit predicted the new digs will foster collaboration between the institution and the community. “We’re developing projects with W2 [Community Media Arts Centre], a collective of Downtown Eastside arts organizations that will occupy 12,000 square feet of space at Woodward’s,” he noted.

And here's one from W2's Irwin Oostindie

According to Irwin Oostindie, executive director of W2, the collective will have access to SFU’s cinema, and hopes to share equipment with the school. In addition, he’s hoping SFU faculty will take part in W2 programs offered to Downtown Eastside residents.

“W2 is very grassroots,” observed Oostindie by phone. “But the SFU School for the Contemporary Arts staff have been very encouraging of our relationship because they understand the ecology of the Woodward’s site, and how the…experience of SFU students at Woodward’s will be vastly improved and radically different if W2 is there.”

sick~urgh! SFU people make some noise & do something!!!

Thanks for bringing my attention to this dawn. Planning to make some noise about this up on the concrete mountain at SFPIRG, please send folks our way if they want support/resources for organizing around this at SFU. 


Call out if people (especially SFU students, alumni, staff, and faculty) want some help in organizing on campus, we are a campus (and larger community) social & enviro justice resource centre.  so much corporate BS all over SFU (kinder morgan tarsands pipeline goes right to storage tank on burnaby mountain, admin is trying to de-regulate the already f*ed up provincial tuition cap, the regular corporate ownership of buildings & educational content etc, and of course woodwards...)


Contact:   Or me directly:  For more info on how we can support you.


Please update if you hear from the ppl at W2.

Make some noise

There's a chance to make some noise this weekend at their open house

And yes will keep you updated as to W2's involvement with the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts.

Shame on you SFU!

I am a student who recently graduated from SFU's Faculty of Environment.  I am also an anti-mining activist who has worked to raise awareness about Canadian mining companies abroad, specifically in my homeland of El Salvador.I am outraged and disgusted to know that my university has accepted this green-washed donation from Goldcorp, a company known around the world for their environmental destruction and violations of human rights.  This company, like many other Canadian mining companies, are funded with OUR public funds such as the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) and Expord Development Canada.I encourage all SFU students to join the call to action and demand that SFU reject this donation.  It is the right thing to do for a university who claims to be "thinking of the world".Shame on SFU!  Shame on Goldcorp!Sincerely,Disgraced and disgusted SFU student

 Goldcorp’s Marlin

 Goldcorp’s Marlin Mine: “Development for death”:

W2 is building a community media centre

Frank and Setarah,
W2 is not involved with GoldCorp funding of Simon Fraser University.  Setarah, we would be glad to inform SFPIRG staff about specifically what W2 does, why we do it, and how we do it. Trying to link our non-profit organisation (largely run with volunteer labour) to SFU getting Goldcorp funding is just wrong.

W2 and SFU are both located at the Woodward's complex, but we are about 150 feet east of SFU in the City of Vancouver-owned heritage building. We won a competition in 2006 to occupy this space. W2 does not share space with the institution of SFU. W2 partners with students and faculty - and we have working relations with the Simon Fraser Student Society. SFSS is a core member of W2, as is CJSF Radio. W2 is building a community media centre that will also provide space for 850 SFU students to organise in.

Through some public funding SFU received from Industry Canada (announced 18 months ago by SFU) we have received some equipment from the School for Contemporary Arts. This includes used video editing equipment and new equipment like hand-held Zoom journalist recorders, video projectors, and computers so we can do training, production and distribution of community media work. That was and is the extent of our partnering that was reported publicly last year.

Talk to us, learn about how the Woodward's complex works and the struggles W2 has to make real the aspirations of the Woodward's Squat for our local neighbourhood. We have been volunteering our time for almost 8 years to make this a reality. Instead of marginalizing our efforts, help us defend the DTES community's rights and access to the Woodward's space.

People can come by our space across the street (151 W Cordova) and ask questions and learn about our work. Our phone number is 604-689-9896, email me personally at, or meetup with any of our Board, volunteers and staff.  Kyle Acierno is the elected External Relations Officer for the Simon Fraser Student Society and represents SFU students on the W2 Board,  He is eager to hear from SFU students attending the School for Cont Arts, and please consider joining our W2 SFU Student Club and help us build a new radio studio at Woodward's for CJSF and COOP Radio.



So you deny being sellouts?

While we're on the topic of W2 and funding, can you please explain how you can explain how you could ethically take Cultural Olympiad funding and still claim that you are working for the DTES community?  Especially given the fact that the Olympics caused many people in the DTES community, as well as in East Van to be the target of harassment by various police in an effort to clean up the neighbourhood and criminalize dissent, as well as the fact that developers were using the Olympics as a springboard to further gentrify the neighbourhood.

There's also the issue of misrepresentation that is present there.  Are you in talks with Co-Op Radio about building a radio station at W2?  I'm not sure that they would be super pumped with going somewhere that so proudly took Olympic money and is actively trying to re-write the story of Anti-Olympic Organizing in Vancouver.

I can forgive certain groups that were backed into corners financially (and physically), but from what I saw W2 wasn't backed into a corner, and quickly took up the cause of cheering on the games.  Claiming that "results matter" is like saying that "the ends justify the means", and it's very rare that they do.

  How is taking Olympiad


How is taking Olympiad money, creating programs of resistance, art programs, and providing spaces for activists who are against the Olympics anything close to selling out? That's not selling out, that's called subversion. 

Through organizations (like W2) that were involved in the Olympic resistance, the money, robbed from taxpayers and used to kick people out of low income residences, was returned to the DTES by giving artists, writers, and residents an opportunity to speak out against the Olympics, to broadcast their experience, and to exercise their civil rights. 

Joe B needs to reevaluate how one goes about creating spaces of resistance in an un-humane, neoliberal political and economic climate. Refusing Cultural Olympiad money only puts it in the hands of Olympic and corporate supporters. Not to mention that the government cut $20M from the arts budget this year. It's completely ridiculous to expect grassroots activist, cultural communities to refuse resources that are rightfully theirs, resources that they can use to implement their programming. It wasn't cultural olympiad money, it's our money. 

Much more comes out of redeploying those funds, than letting them sit in the hands of greedy capitalists and corporate entities, while being silenced. 

Joe B, your comments are not thought through. I read a desire to position yourself as a "non-sellout" against W2 as indicative of something that has nothing to do with what the W2 really does, but more to do with undeveloped idealism that is founded in (immature) nihilistic propensities---destructive, 80s punk culture at best--destruction of self, over the building of new potentialities. 

Undermining resistance

By taking the Olympic cash, appearing on Olympic propaganda (websites, ads etc) giving the Olympic project an overall seal of approval, W2 undermined the hard work that the Olympic Resistance Network and others did for years to spread the word about the damaging effects of the games on Vancouver.

I would call it subversion if W2 took the money, then turned around and took a hard stand against the games, and used to money to create blatant anti-olympic works. But the contract they signed almost certainly prohibited them from doing that, hence the anti-olympic silence coming from the W2 camp was deafening.

Let's get real here. VIVO, the Purple Thistle and very few other art org's did not take dirty Olympic money and they are still there and their anti-Olympic cultural output was loud and uncompromising. Cultural Olympiad money came with a price, it bought VANOC and the IOC silence from potential critical voices.

It's clear that W2 was

It's clear that W2 was actually pro-games.  While I may have walked into SFU Harbour Center once to attend an ORN conference on how to resist the games, Irwin and W2 appeared in a "You Gotta Be Here" ad, had numerous meetings with VANOC, and recruited people who were known to talk to the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit.

W2 is NOT a space for any serious resistance.  Sure, there may be counter-culture artworks at the space, and people may take grandiose stances against corporations from afar, but when it shows up in its own backyard, as we have seen in the past, it's clear that there's zero resistance.  The best that we saw from W2 during the Olympic games was that it hosted a debate on the Diversity of Tactics for Rabble, and has since has started using the same language as O'Keefe and others who were opposed to the Diversity of Tactics and the actions of the Black Bloc during Heart Attack.

How much did Rabble pay W2 to have that discussion, BTW?

There's also the fact that W2 supported the BCCLA Legal Observers, who spent their time claiming to be neutral, then turning around and denouncing the actions of Heart Attack, and calling the Police Actions "balanced".

At the end, I saw more support from private studios in the neighborhood supporting the resistance than I saw from W2.  W2 does reflect a neighborhood, but I think it's a delusion to think that it's the DTES that it's supporting, at least not the part of the DTES that hasn't been completely sanitized and gentrified.

Finally, when you say funding that is "rightfully theirs", can you please elaborate on that?  My personal opinion is that if the arts community was strong, it should be possible to not have to take Government Money at all, and that it's a nice to have thing, but not necessary for core costs.  This weird entitlement to the funds of the government is strange, and as long as the arts community has this strange relationship, creative resistance will be muted at best, and in most cases completely lacking.

Not all art has to resist something, but actually resisting something is a requirement if you're saying that you're doing some creative resistance.  Poseurism and trying to claim street cred while trying to re-write history makes W2 look more pathetic than most of the other artists who took Olympic money, because they weren't pretending to be something that they were not.

dirty tactics

Regarding Frank's comment, "dirty Olympic money": I have a hard time understanding how tax payer money that finds a way back to an artist run centre, which is used to promote free speech, while bringing visual, media and literary artists together in the dtes, in addition to creating broadcasting that documents the Olympic resistance is in any way "dirty." 

Tax payers dollars--that are redistributed through art grants--are the people's dollars. It was not the government's money, not VANOC's money, not corporate money. 

What's dirty is this attempt to slander an organization that is a moving cultural force in the DTES. 

VIVO and Purple Thistle have other sources of funding, and any money that any organization has received in the last three years via arts grants is Olympic money, whether it's labelled that way or not. 

Everyone knows that the W2 did not promote/support the Olympics. Also, it took an anti-olympic stance:

To Joe B.: Yes, BC's (and as we saw with the G20, Canada at large) neoliberal government policies are pretty ugly, dirty, and shameful. But that government is fueled by our tax dollars. Why should we pay taxes, and then watch our social, educational and welfare/healthcare programs and policies become dismantled by these governments (using our funds), when the agreement was that we'd pay taxes so those funds would be redistributed into our communities. 

Rejecting government money: how should one then generate resources to produce spaces of cultural change? Your comment reeks---it is a call to implement capitalist methods and structures of profit generation. Not to say that there aren't sustainable and socially conscious ways of generating revenues to support programs in any art organization, but demanding that an art organization receives  nothing, makes no partnerships, and does not apply for art funds (particularly when it is geared at developing a space of resistance, and when it does offer citizens a new venue to combat neoliberal government policies and the gentrification of low income communities), is not reasonable. 

Reflecting on this discussion, these comments that have been left by Frank and Joe B., seem to be completely opportunist: for whatever reason, you are slandering the W2, you're trying to present the organization in a horrific light, as if W2 had anything to do with the Goldcorp agreement. And furthermore, when that doesn't stand, you're attempting to create rumours about W2's stance on the Olympics, and you're positioning yourself against the exec director for reasons I'm not privy to. 

This morning, a Vancouver writer and poet wrote to me: "W2 in my opinion is the best thing that's happened on the cultural front in a generation, and now it's under attack?"

For whatever reasons you are taking this Goldcorp deal to slander W2 is something that I don't fully understand. Without going there, it's clear to me that your stance does not examine the whole picture. You're requesting that the W2 provide a level of antagonism that would work against it as an organization. Antagonism, however, need not be antagonistic in the same sense your comments geared at slandering the W2 are.

Antagonism best develops and moves to change the hegemonic social fabric by subtly influencing neighbouring elements and social agents in a social field. In this biopolitical arena, social agents (potentially via organizations) must reconstitute our outward appearance to move through this commodified, linguistic space under the radar and create spaces of resistance---consequently developing new modes of activism and grassroots agency. 

The type of resistance you are demanding the W2 adopt would only work to undermine its efforts. 

Furthermore, despite what you have written, people know what they've seen. I believe it is unclear to many readers why one would attack the W2 on this issue, when the SFU's Administration and adoption of neoliberal policies---i.e. encouraging private corporate money to influence public education---and Goldcorp (the bigger culprit) are the ones who should be under attack.

That's all I have to say on this issue, unless you wish to engage in discussion about real social change and strategies to subvert and reconstitute late-capitalist neoliberal agendas.

Attacking leftist artist run centres who are working in this vein, by simulating facts about the centre through online journalism and discussion, is a nasty political tactic.    

Olympic Money = Corporate Money

Hey Cris, thanks for your comments. I must admit that I am a bit dumbfounded by your logic on how Olympic money is the people's money. I suggest you read Chris Shaw's "Five Ring Circus" to gain a real understanding on how the Olympic machine works, and why mechanisms such as the Cultural Olympiad are put in place to facilitate more profits for the IOC and further the OIympic brand in the guise of helping artists.

As far as the video link you provided, all it shows is a report on the Olympic Tent Village. There's no official statement from W2 condemning the games.

I can only speak for my comments but accusing me of slander is pretty serious. I think you mean libel as slander refers to verbal defamatory statements. Please re-read my comments and if you still think I have committed acts of libel, bring on the lawyers.

It appears you didn't read my comment

So, I'll elaborate on this paragraph:

Finally, when you say funding that is "rightfully theirs", can you please elaborate on that?  My personal opinion is that if the arts community was strong, it should be possible to not have to take Government Money at all, and that it's a nice to have thing, but not necessary for core costs.  This weird entitlement to the funds of the government is strange, and as long as the arts community has this strange relationship, creative resistance will be muted at best, and in most cases completely lacking.

I didn't say anything about not taking money, I did say that you shouldn't use it to pay your staff, your rent or anything like that. You should also make sure that it doesn't go against your mandate or violate the spirit of what you're trying to do. Saying that the ends justify the means isn't always the case, and you may have people who will speak out publicly on the record against the decisions that W2 has made, and W2 presenting itself as a radical space when it won't take radical stances on anything that happens in its own backyard.

There are simple things that you can do to make sure that you can have BOTH integrity and have a radical space, such as putting plans on hold, not biting off more than you can chew, and not having a grandiose plan.  Sure, you won't have tons of money to buy the latest state-of-the-art gear, but if you're willing to put the time and effort into the space, and other people actually see you doing that, they pull together.

Your comments clearly come from a pro-state viewpoint.  It's a LOT harder to not pay taxes in Canada than it is in the United States, and based on the bullshit that the provincial and federal government have pulled that has affected me personally in the past year, I'd gladly not give them a cent.

As far as it being a tactic, I'm refuting what W2 is saying publicly, and I wish a lot more people would do the same.  I'm not trying to score any points, and if it makes W2 look bad, it's probably because it has some serious flaws.  If the people involved are upset at what I'm saying, they should take a serious look in the mirror and at their organization.

Joe, this is plain stupid

Joe, this is just plain stupid and incorrect what you are saying here about my particular role.

Irwin and W2 appeared in a "You Gotta Be Here" ad, had numerous meetings with VANOC, and recruited people who were known to talk to the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit.

You don't like our work - that's clear - but calling me a patsy and security threat is taking this insulting banter to another level. These allegations about me are categorically incorrect.

Signing off.

Who's Security?

What I'm saying plain and simple is that W2 had people who were confronted by VISU and decided to have a conversation with them.  These people were welcomed by W2 and these people did work for VANOC. 

How would this be a security threat if W2 wasn't radical?  Is W2 doing something illegal or shady that we should know about?  It's clear that you're not to be trusted, but this seems like it's strange language coming from someone who's talking about being inclusive, and "results matter".

The question is simple.  If my comment about the Vancouver Integrated Security Unit having people visit W2 bothers you, why does it?

As far as saying you're a Patsy, I didn't say that.  You did!  However, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck....

You don't have any inside info

Again, Joe, can only repeat what i said. You don't have any inside information about W2 to make these comments: These people (who spoke to VISU) were welcomed by W2

This is not true. Linking W2 to people who spoke with VISU is wrong. And no promo video, and no boosterism. Find out if stuff is true before you try to pin something on W2.

W2 has almost 1500 members and within that membership W2 does not control what people do, but to suggest then we are somehow welcoming or encouraging those people's actions is false. We have processes, a Board, staff, committees, and throughout all of that discussions take place. People are held accountable for their actions.

Then prove that you have a process!

From where I sit, the deal with social media boosterism seemed pretty complete.  You're right about how I have no internal documents, but what I do know is that there were people involved with W2 who were contractors for VANOC, and that these people did in fact speak to the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit about their social media boondoggle while at the same time they were trying to buddy up with any member of ORN that they could find.

Since you're the one that names names, why don't you provide the proof that you have a process and out those people.  Most of my questions are based on your reaction to previous documents, and spin that your organization put out there, not on any internal documents that you and your board had.


being held accountable

Joe, i think you are talking about something from a year ago, and i believe the person you are referring to was a volunteer for W2 and when we tried to hold them accountable for their unauthorized public representations it was dealt with. Not suprising, but disappointing nonetheless, they chose to resign rather than be accountable to the group. We dealt with it cause we felt it was a serious issue of having unauthorized and compromised voices representing our work. W2 did not and does not support individuals free-wheeling their own agendas within the larger group. If anyone was interested in learning about this they could have talked to any of the dozen people on the W2 Board or staff and found this out. I told VMC about this in February 2010. The W2 Board had little tolerance for people who seriously compromised our work.

And for the record, W2 has been in very public challenges to the Vancouver 'twitterati' scene. W2 is about community and progressive media - not social media boosterism. W2 has been working with our own partners to push the Vancouver social media community towards ethics and journalistic traditions, as well as pushing journalists to adopt appropriate and strategic social media tools. This is part of our critical work of empowering affected communities with social change tools and resources. Social media does provide some options for that - but we tend to need to look outside of Vancouver to find good examples of that. W2 promotes grassroots communities being the owners and trainers of their own tools, and W2 does not support a class of professional social media consultants servicing our communities. It is interesting to look back at the twitter traffic from the Olympic period and i can say that after evaluating hundred of tweets, there was not a single original tweet emerging from what i would refer to as an investigative or news-gathering variety from this block of Olympic boosters. It was all retweets and parties and puff journalism. W2 was in a conflict with that block of social media enthusiasts, and it is not surprising that they were trying to ingratiate themselves with ORN or VMC to boost their credibility.  

I regret the confrontational way this conversation has unfolded. W2 was attacked from Frank's original comment and it was needless given that we are open to talking about our work in productive back channels or in public. Taking a separate issue and trying to squeeze us into the Goldcorp agenda was manipulative and inappropriate - and distracting from the core work needing to be done about the company. I also felt attacked and acted defensively, and i regret that.

Ahmed suggested we would info share in some clinical controlled manner, but that's not what we do. We like when our allies get an understanding of our work at open community info sessions. We also recognize that our work is full of political contradictions and is occurring at a historically traumatic time for our neighbourhood. We understand that some of our former allies are frustrated with us. We take responsibility for some of that given the rapid pace of work we achieve and the volatile time we are in... but also encourage people to talk or visit us directly so they can differentiate what is our ideological positions and what are tactics. What is it that W2 is building for the Dowtown Eastside? We are also glad to do this in an organised community session style which we've done a half dozen times at Carnegie and elsewhere.

W2 hasn't even opened the doors to our community media centre or our W2 Cafe (happens this December). We have been operating project sites, but getting ready, and after 7 years, excited to get our main work started soon. While frustrating, this conflict of words has served to provide some clarifications.

The facts are the facts

Hey Irwin, thanks for your comment. I suggest you re-read my original comment. If you take it as an attack there's nothing I can do about it. Pointing out W2's relationship with the SFU arts school within the context of corporate money and Woodsward's is relevant to the conversation. As you say "this conflict of words has served to provide some clarifications." I couldn't agree more.

Now, what infil00p brings up is very troubling and I am glad that this person is no longer at W2. But the important question is who is this person(s)? If there were individuals who were "buddying up" with the ORN and VMC and at the same time talking to VISU, the activist community needs to know who they are. Over the last year many people have ended up in jail or facing serious charges because of informants, so please let's make this info public for the safety of our community.

"for the safety of our community"

Stimulator, you already have the information, and through private emails this week you confirmed you already heard from other people about people who it was that had very publicly met VISU. You and Joe claimed W2 people spoke with VISU - not true. You know yourself you are talking about the lead organisers of the True North Media House who at the time were very public about their meeting. After trying to work together, W2 disassociated ourselves from the True North Media House in October 2009. And privately with me this week, you admitted you knew they were not part of W2. 

So let's look at your (in)action. You have had public exchanges with that group's spokesperson over the past year, and as recent as two weeks ago. So if this is so egregious, why are you not distancing yourself from them or protecting the community?! Maybe this was just a red herring you used to smear W2 with...  leaving weighty allegations about W2's misconduct hanging for days on end. W2 is a large organisation with (as of today 1503 diverse members) so we take attacks on our group seriously.

Another example is with your 'Stimulator' profile on the VMC site. It listed your other name, yet i was criticized for allegedly breaking security protocols for using it, when in fact anyone could see your names by clicking on your profile. You changed your profile this week after i challenged the point.

It is evident that even when you have the information you prefer muckraking. Each time when called on about using divisive tactics, you sink back claiming you are an investigative journalist "just asking questions" in aid of "the community."  You are selective with how and when you share your information with the VMC readers. I think this is a distraction from Goldcorp organising, and I'd like to see VMC members operate to a higher journalistic standard for the health and "safety of our community."

Off the record

Hey Irwin, thanks for your comments. First off I never stated that W2 spoke with VISU. The fact that I've had exchanges with people doesn't mean anything. I've distanced my self from W2 but yet have public exchanges with W2 volunteers, so what?

As soon as the allegations that former W2 volunteers spoke with VISU, I started digging for the reasons I stated. A lot of the information that has been brought to my attention has been off the record including conversations with you regarding this matter. I respect that agreement. When I have concluded my research it'll be posted on the VMC.

As far as naming names, I'll own up to that. indeed my name was attached to my profile and this was an oversight on my end which I have since corrected. But there was one person who posted here anonymously whose name was revealed by you.

In the end this is not a distraction. This conversation has yielded a lot of interesting facts, facts that I was not aware of and facts that are interconnected the struggles we face in Vancouver.

"W2 was in a conflict with

"W2 was in a conflict with that block of social media enthusiasts"


Too cute. Lets then map out the dynamics of this "conflict" more clearly. The signature media event/conference both promoted and advertised by W2 during the Olympics was something called "Fresh Media Olympics Conference" billed as a kind of coming out party for "citizen journalists and bloggers. The conference would be according to W2 a place for face to face networking, then followed by a party with dj's. Who did W2, in supposed conflict with Olympic boosters and bougies, choose to host as their out of town keynote speaker? Some gent named Andy Miah author of ‘A Digital Olympics: Digital Games, Ethics & Cultures’. The kind of book that is probably as brutal as its title suggestion. Not only is Miah a key player in the London Cultural Olympiad but he also wrote an article in the Huffington Post-- as the games were on-- where he asserts that the left leaning Guardian failed Londoners by providing needlessly critical opinionating about the Games. The article was filled a kind of depressing post ideological both sides out the mouth blather recognizable to anyone here. Read it for yourself. This is the dominant perspective that W2 chose to push. Why?

Will W2 dennounce SFU for taking Goldcorp money

Thanks for taking the time to respond Irwin. No one is trying to marginalize your efforts, people just want W2 to clarify its relationship to the SFU/Goldcorp Centre for the Arts. The article I linked to shows that there has been a working relationship and would simply like to know how this announcement changes things and people have questions.

1. Will W2 make an official announcement denouncing SFU for accepting moneys from Gold Corp, a corporation that poisons indigenous communities in Central America?

2. Will W2 boycott the facilities of the SFU/Goldcorp Centre for the Arts?

I think these questions are fair and will help clarify even further W2's position if it's OK to take dirty corporate money. And there's very good reasons for people to be asking questions. W2 took Olympic money and became an active promoter of the games. For many of us who volunteered for years to expose the Olympics for what they are, a corporate trojan horse, W2's decision to collaborate with the Olympic apparatus was a betrayal. Then came the announcement that W2 welcomed mega-retailer London Drugs into the Downtown East Side.

For those of us who work in anti-capitalist struggles, we are working hard to rid our communities of corporate control, not welcome them in. It's very important for us to see who's on our side. But W2 which purports to be grassroots, has turned off many grassroots activists and organizations (some who were part of the Woodward's squat) by getting in bed with big corporations.

W2 has no say with Woodward's

Frank, you are mixing up Westbank's massive redevelopment of the Woodward's site with our W2 grassroots community group. We have nothing to do with decisions regarding the redevelopment of the Woodward's site. And your comment that "people want to know" if W2 will take dirty corporate money is insulting. We are largely volunteer and underpayed because we are grassroots. We don't get paid from student levies, we don't get paid from corporate donations, and we wouldn't take money from corporations with a history of human rights abuses. Do your homework and get rid of the chip on your shoulder about W2.

We are one of 12 community non-profit groups moving into the Woodward's community amenity space that is about 1% of the site. We are not a major player alongside SFU and London Drugs. We have nothing to say about who moves in to Woodward's - in fact we had our planned space cut in half last year by the City - losing both a youth media centre and disability arts studio. We are not even on the tenant management committee for Woodwards with groups such as PHS or Progressive Housing etc.  You seem to be confusing our name 'W2' with the Woodward's complex, and trying to peg stuff on us that we have no involvement in.

Other than playing a role of media critic, i do not believe you represent the Woodward's squatters-some of whom are in our organization and on our Board. And historically, while i can appreciate your's and Mr Joe Bowser's critique of the hundred arts organization that received public funding through the Cultural Olympiad-to say W2 was a promoter of the Olympics is false. You seem bent on hijacking Dawn's critique of GoldCorp financing of SFU to criticize W2's mass organizing efforts to protect community space within Woodward's - otherwise a privatized urban redevelopment.

W2 is accountable to our 1400 members and our DTES neighbourhood, and while i appreciate your reasons for not participating in our efforts to build a progressive media centre for Vancouver, denegrating us because we are located next to a University property is not on.

If your real target is not W2, but in fact GoldCorp and privatization of public education, i encourage you to organise on the issues more productively and join with W2, SFPIRG, SFSS and others to encourage this debate within SFU rather than on this blog.

Addendum for Joe: CJSF and Coop Radio are both core members of W2 and have an audio studio in the basement of Woodward's heritage building. It's not a new station or a move, but a crossmedia studio for those two stations to use offsite from their existing locations.

You can't be neutral on a moving train.

Thanks for your reply Irwin. I am perfectly clear about the difference between W2 and the Woodwards complex. I am addressing my (and others) concerns about W2's reaction and future relationship with the SFU Goldcorp Centre for the reasons I've stated above, but you have managed to avoid both my questions. I think that W2, as a progressive organization, should make a public statement about SFU's decision to take money from Goldcorp, especially since both organizations are neighbors and have a history of mutual collaboration. But your responses seem to imply that W2 will not take a public position on this issue.

I know W2 has no say as to who gets to be a tenant in Woodwards, but W2 certainly has a voice that can oppose the corporatization of the DTES. Subway, London Drugs, Nesters are just the beginning of what's going down in the hood. Here's what you had to say about London Drugs:

The Cultural Olympiad is an instrument of promotion for the Olympics, and W2 took part in that endeavor. I find it insulting that your would even deny that. Let's get real.

I understand that W2 does a lot of good work, no one is denying that. But getting in bed with corporations such as the IOC sends a disturbing message. In the end W2 rode the fence about the Olympics the entire time, while grassroots activists busted their butts to make a case against this corporate invasion of our city. As Joe B said, many of us (me included) were visited by the cops and comrades were arrested for taking a strong anti-olympic position. It would have been nice to count on W2 as strong ally but that was not the case. One of our VMC members was also part of the Woodward's squat and was utterly disappointed to hear about W2 taking Olympic money. Our member mentioned that it was sad that after breathing pigeon shit for days in the Woodward's squat, that now that struggle had been co-opted by the same corporate forces they were fighting.

You are correct, the target is not W2, the target is corporate greed. But the Goldcorp announcement has kick started the conversation about W2's involvement with corporate cash within the context of the gentrification of the DTES. I think it's extremely relevant that it is discussed here.

I am surprised

I am surprised that you are surprised how the W2 thing is shaking out. Anybody who wasn't blindfolded when the whole thing was developing could have seen this one coming.

The gross misrepresentation (initially) in the media thanks to W2s "working the alternative media" when they ran into roadblocks at City Hall (regarding the space) was just one of those illustrious examples.

People behind W2 have grand ideas whose true role in this changing neighbourhood escapes me, they preach "to the people" but in the end seem to be more interested in working to the power.

I'll be watching this a bit more, but I'd be extremely surprised if W2 ever reaches the role / position in the community that it's initiators claim.

W2 and Civil War

I tend to spit on limousines. I know they are for the most part rented and a shitty-paid driver will have to clean it, but I just cant help myself. I walked past w2 the other night and it was lined with limos, by the time I got to the gallery’s front door my mouth was bone dry.


The scum that were ducking inside are the scum of a very elite class. This class entertains itself within a cultural vacuum, one that operates to serve their interests. We all know this. Irwin knows this, because he is a stooge that works for this postmodern shithole. He, and other scum like him, are pathological liars- hey, its part of the job!


These bosses of the ghetto sell their wares by whatever means. In a market of 'revitalization' a hot commodity is the false concept of community/neibourhood- its a marketing mantra, just look at his ridicules statements. Part of the pathology is that you take more on, you even begin to believe that your part of the make-believe community, or that you are a volunteer in the institution that pays you.


Unlike the limo driver, who just has a shitty job, Irwin and scum like him, believe that the limo they drive is theirs. How fuckin pathetic. Worse still, they believe w2 is a progressive grassroots establishment that contains within its very walls the spirit of the woodsquat. This is when patheticness shifts towards fascism. Fascism if we care to define it as the mechanism of reform within the state, reform that consolidates power within the state by assimilating the counter-power that is opposed to the state.


Woodwards is only a condo, there are lots of them, but w2 is an apparatuses of Capture. It was constructed so as to operate as counter-revolution. As Irwin told a panel (that I had the misfortune to be on), art gallery’s are the storm troopers of gentrification. I responded that rather then be a ‘storm trooper’ sent to annihilate, it is better to aspire to be an anti-fascist partisan. If I am correct, and we are in fact partisan war machines, then w2 is set directly within our sites as an institution, connected threw an assemblage of apparatuses to Empire, and must be destroyed. I would advocate clandestine attacks meant to destabilize the facade, established by Spectacle, that this institution has anything to do with ‘progressive’ forces.


As an institution its only allegiance is with Command, otherwise it would not exist. To deconstruct the bullshit put forward by the cultural elite is to participate within the propaganda of w2, it is better to just despise it for what it obviously is. These scumbags take any opportunity to establish a platform from which to propagate bullshit, and as their discourse is firmly established within the dominant ideology- it is better to cut out their tongue then allow them to wag it.


The rupture that is the woodsquat, is far from over. w2 is not the triumph of the pig; rather it has allowed us to reassemble our forces upon a much more clear terrain. It has allowed us to identify our enemies all the better, those, like Irwin, who’s participation within the ‘scene’ is a police operation, one that is meant to neutralize and sow disunity. W2 is a fortress of Biopower, built within the Society of Spectacle…as such, its future in the Global Civil War is certain.

Irwin "And historically,

Irwin "And historically, while i can appreciate your's and Mr Joe Bowser's critique of the hundred arts organization that received public funding through the Cultural Olympiad-"


This is an example of cynical double talk, the aim being to dodge the crux of the critique. Notice how Irwin "appreciates" the criticism of arts organizations accepting cultural Olympiad money, without ever acknowledging much less defending W2's decision to take the cash. What we have here is a style of speaking more representative of cynical bureaucrats than anything grassroots. So, with this in mind, a few questions. 


Irwin--How did W2 arrive at the decision to accept cultural Olympiad money? How much cash was accepted and what "community voices" were consulted? Did that decision compromise W2's ability to act in alliance with Olympic dissidents? Will the board and grassroots membership of W2 register any published opinion about the Goldcorp donation? Some straight talking answers would be welcome. Cheers.

Building an alternative

Ahmed,  W2 of course had serious discussions on our Board and staff team about involving ourselves with Olympic arts funding in the face of so many failed 2010 committments. Many of us worked on this front for 7 years. Needless to say, i will not throw down some quick words here to be misconstrued by our critics.  These were very difficult decisions and reflected our urgent need for funding to pay our rent, and confirmation that we were proud of the political artworks we were presenting and that they held their integrity despite being funded by 2010. Despite the sense of betrayal some of our allies and former allies would feel, we made the decision. These are not cynical or easy decisions, but do reflect that we are not only looking at the historic moment but working on a longterm strategy.

Unlike other arts groups who receive significant public arts funding, and could therefore more easily stand on principle and not take the funding - we have no public arts funding.  Ahmed, you ask for "straight talk" from W2 on large and complex matters, and we do not even know each other, and i do not know what your interest is in our work, what your relation is to my neighbourhood or the subject at hand. So forgive me for limiting conversation on years of work to this paragraph. Further, the VMC website is not a productive community platform for engaging in learning, so i invite you to some of the other face-to-face forums available if you are interested in learning about W2. Please let me know.

David Cunningham, i am sorry to burst your black and white bubble, and yes i saw the limos outside the Storyeum building last week. They were actually working class people who work in bars and restaurants in the lower mainland who won a contest (including a limo ride) to see a famous DJ that our renter brought in. It wasnt W2 programming, it wasnt a sheeshy art gallery crowd, but we did make money that night from the rental and for that - and despite the contradictions you flag - we can live with ourselves. We are largely community service volunteers but we make money (yes it may be considered dirty) to pay our rent and do community work with. I respect that you think non-profit societies are an evil model and that in the era of neoliberal attacks on public services we should just shut down our operations and join a general strike... but last time i checked you werent organising one, and political resistance is taking new forms.

Dave, W2 does not ask you to join us in our long-term strategy of building a piece of alternative communication infrastructure at the Woodward's site. (It opens this December). There are many front lines - in particular in the DTES - but we do ask that you respect the diversity of tactics and back off from your angry white male threats to us on public forums. I won't go into what i think of your many failed tactics, but i can say that W2's mandate** is an important one, and we stand by our work despite being shit-kicked by a myopic radical fringe.  

On the subject of Goldcorp and SFU, I spent a decade in student union organising and time in organising against Canadian mining companies and petroleum companies harming the Philippines and Burma. I co-coordinated a successful $41 Million US divestment of Petro Canada from Burma. I know these subjects well and personally, so i find your posturing little more than grandstanding. No, W2 is not going to take a public position against SFU. We are however educating our allies inside SFU about these subjects and encouraging their organising. And for the record, Frank, Dave and Joe, you have all walked inside SFU's "Fletcher Challenge Theatre" at Harbour Centre so I'd watch your rhetoric. It's pretty hollow.

**W2's mandate is to break the digital divide, promote social inclusion, cross-cultural dialogue, and redress. We do this by providing access to gear, training, production, and distribution of people's crossmedia stories.  Take a look at our events to see what we are up to.

Finally an answer

Irwin, thanks for taking the time in addressing most of my concerns (after an awesome display of wordsmith acrobatics!) My aim was not to question your activist pedigree, but to get to the bottom of the issue at hand, Goldcorp, SFU and the relationship to W2 and W2's position on the Goldcorp cash. I was actually doing research on SFU's relationship to W2 (even wrote to Martin Gotfrit) when you weighed in.

My opinion is that it's too bad that W2 would choose to once again "ride the fence" on an issue that is very important to many grassroots activists in this city.

I'm not even going to address the "Fletcher Challenge Theatre" allegation because it's simply a petty argument.

Lastly I ask of you (and Guunagwis) to respect people's anonymity on this site, even if you feel that naming them by name will help your argument. People have many reasons to be anonymous, among them the reality of police repression and outing them on this forum is in bad form.

The real issue is Goldcorp...

DISCLAIMER:** I'm a Native man who grew up in the DTES and made it out of the ghetto, opposed to growing up with privilege and trying to gain street cred by overcompensating with "hardcoreness". **

Liking the dialog but not liking the juvenile immature hollow insults, esp from "D".

Seems ironic D that you are cutting up a community venue that is working towards working with a *diverse* group of people. I spent years being tokenized by groups like APC and similar groups that are 90% white privileged kids looking for a ghetto pass, and utlizing peeps actually from the hood to try and gain street cred - alot of the activities really seemily like kids wanting to gain life experience and 'slum it' rather than be inspired to work in 'solidarity' as you say with groups who deeply need change. When it came down to it, they cared little about me and more about their self-imposed (dis)enfranchised (political) position. How are your putting on *political* crusty punk art shows in the hood for some cause any different than what you are hating on?. I see the damage you have personally done to actually marginalized communities and am shocked that you have the audasity to try and project your own issues on others, rather than look at the real issues that are at stake...

David Cunning man-  Did you read Dawns powerful article? Did you notice the picture of a sick baby from Guatemala? No, you decided to use your selfish, cowardly, pitiful self indulgent white guilt to bypass the real issue. What separates you from the government? your language is the same (convoluted and vague and passive aggressive), your tactics are the same (divide and distract to deluge the real issues with petty crap) and your face is the same...seriously, get a life, be a man, grow up. wearing a black hoodies and spray paintinting east van aint causing an 'world insurrection"

The Real ISSSUE is GOLDCORP, how are you guys making a stand??? Ask yourself these questions.

Conversations of the kind

Conversations of the kind we're having need not be limited to a venue that you oversee. Suggesting, condescendingly, that the sole way of participating in a dialogue about these issues is to be escorted on a tour or arrange a "face to face" with the head honcho is smug. The kind of bureaucratic double talk that I described earlier which aims to silence dissent. I'm glad that you've finally offered an explanation for taking money from the cultural Olympiad. No doubt this was a decision, like many for non profits in the age of neo liberal cuts, made under severe constraints.


I have no idea as to whether this decision negatively impacted your ability to be an ally of anti Olympic organizers. What's clear to me though is that aside from physically hosting a rabble debate and giving space for the much contested BCCLA Legal Observers program, W2 had no organic connection with the grassroots actions of protestors. So while hundreds huddled in the cold, working tirelessly to create a self sustaining community called Tent Village, W2 hosted yuppie social media "conferences"  (sites of pompous self congratulation), served free wine provided by sponsors, and was the site of photo ops for the mayor and local politicians. The problem here, I'd suggest, is structural. All this blather about "our community" negates the fact that W2 is hardly the most accessible on the ground resource for folks in the DTES. Its staff and programming is orientated is to a wholly different demographic. There may (or may not) a justifiable explanation for why this is the case but the "street cred" posturing, on Irwin's behalf, is just plain silly. Lets have some real talk.


After about three lengthy blather filled responses, Irwin finally--at last-- says what many here expected. W2 notwithstanding--"independence" from SFU, Irwin decades of anti mining agitation, its supposed role fostering "new forms" of resistance--will take no public position in opposing the Goldcrop donation because that just ain't what they do. Figures. Why didn't you say so earlier?

ps Irwin as a "white male", an "executive director" of W2 you look downright silly calling David an "angry white male". Get off your high horse. And the language of "radical political fringe" belongs in the  National Post. Using such terminology tells us more about you than your critics.


Interesting, too, that the

Interesting, too, that the Mayor and presumably other powers that be (Bob Rennie has publicly praised W2)  conceive of W2 in similar terms to David Cunningham. That is, not separate and apart from the gentrification nightmare that is Woodwards, but integral to its functioning. Here's what Gregor said in a speech he gave at W2 on the occasion of its grand opening. 


“The city’s been really proud to support W2 and the whole Woodward's development,” he said, for “representing change, transformation, and revitalization for the Downtown Eastside, but change that embraces the community, that respects and engages the community. W2 is a world class example of the turning into a reality.”


Sounds a lot like Irwin. Surely Irwin, frantically spamming people about the Mayor's presence corrected Gregor,  loudly asserting W2"s independence from the rest of the gentrification producing monster. A dig through the archive shows no such objection. Maybe Irwin uses one language for us while practicing a wholly different discourse for the mover and shakers. Here he trots out his anti mining agitation rep while behind closed doors he'll make no noise about Goldcorp's investment.  In which case I suggest that Irwin immediately abandon W2 and instead take on a career in parliamentary politics. No doubt that his skills would come in handy!

Ahmed, The problem with W2


The problem with W2 and it's board is a rather simple one:

They have an idea and they are obsessed by the idea. They try to make this idea happen regardless on how this goes.

I had muy talks with Irwin and my take on him and W2 is simple: Either after talking to him you're a convert or an heretic, there really isn't anything that would leave you on the fence. I went the other way after essentially getting no answers and in the end being told that I have no right to ask any questions because I am not doing anything to "help the people in the DTSE".

W2 might be a neat idea, and a place like Purple Thistle clearly has something of value to offer, but after watching the back and forth and the scheming and lying on behalf of W2 and it's board in the last two years I have written them off.

In my estimation they will continue to exist, as Robertson said: They are an integral part of the NEW DTSE and what gives the gentrification a more shiny veneer than a bunch of people who claim to work for the little man and "fighting the man" publicly while behind closed doors making deals?

Irwin and the rest of W2 remind me of a lot of other organizations that once started out with ideals and living by them only to lose focus when it came down to make hard decisions: Make cuts / compromise the overall vision or compromise integrity.

In my estimate after seeing it up close and personal, as quickly as Woodwards was raised to the sky, as quickly did W2 and the people behind it lose any integrity.

The big loser in this will be the DTSE community who under the original vision could have prosper, now it seems to be turning into a "cool" event place for the people new to the DTSE and Gastown and another outlet for the SFU students (nothing wrong with that). The coffee shop they are hoping to bring in revenue / finance the operations will probably end up either being revenue neutral or cause them losses, there are already a JJ Beans and a few other outlets in the vicinity, how they want to convince the majority to come to them remains to be seen (if the coffee shop is even still on, I admit I didn't follow that one closely).

This one goes out to the

This one goes out to the stimulator.

You're an ally to the cause so this comes as an act of love and hopefully leads to positive conversation and change.

Since you enjoy Derrick Jensen's metaphor of the activists fighting against the Death Star.. I wonder how this metaphor could apply to this situation. It's clear that the Empire, Vader, and the Death Star are represented by Goldcorp who is doing nothing but pillaging and murdering their way to ever increasing profitability. But who are the rebels? Is that where you fancy your role in this? Or is someone else dropping that torpedo down the thermal exhaust vent? Where does W2 fall? Are they the sellout activists who claim to be working against the beast of capitalism and gentrification while implicitly supporting it by not being radical enough?

My intuition tells me that this is how the fantasy plays out in your head.. I could be wrong.


The empire = Goldcorp

The rebels = anyone who watches SubMedia and identifies as part of the motherfucking resistance (blackbloc, militants, etc)

The activists = anyone who is remotely connected to W2/Cultural Olympiad funding


So... the big question. Do Leia, Luke, Chewie, Han Solo, and the rest of the badass rebels waste their time talking shit about the ineffective activists thereby creating a rift in their own movement and alienating their allies??? NO THEY DO NOT!

They go after the fucking death star.

keep your eyes on the prize.

sure, some self-evaluation of the movement and some critique is necessary.. but at the end of the day evaluate how much time you put into bad-mouthing everyone who isn't radical enough and contrast that with how much time you spend dismantling Goldcorp.

I can't fit W2 in the Star Wars analogy

Hey Sithlord, thanks for your reply, that shit is funny and I can see your point about keeping your eyes on the prize. But as a media person it's my job to expose and discuss these things. I really don't see this as shit talking and find that alerting people who may waste their time in projects that collaborate with the death star is time well spent. I know several people who used to volunteer at W2 and left after having wasted a considerable amount of time there, time that could have been spent working for Olympic resistance, the VMC or what not. These folks felt they were duped by W2's mission statement and didn't know just what was really going on there. Hopefully this discussion and other articles will alert future allies from making the same mistake.

Activists publicly attacking

Activists publicly attacking other activists is extremely fucking lame. You can say that it was done in the name of journalism sure, but why did you not simply contact Irwin and ask him to provide the information you were looking for, I belive he even made the invitation. This was very clearly a public smear. Seems that the idea of respecting your comrades and diversity of tactics is a one way street within the anarchist community.

So what's the big story here? W2 took art funding from the Olympiad? That was already public knowledge as per your links.

Is the story that W2 isn't going to publicly denounce SFU?  That's a story?  

People simply had questions

And Irwin danced around them until he finally answered them. There were some issues around W2 that were murky and even if you don't agree with the tone some of the comments took, the pressure exerted pushed Irwin to come clean (for the most part) Obviously people are passionate about this subject.

W2 is not going to publicly denounce their partners at SFU for taking money from a corporation that displaces and destroys communities and it's bringing that shame to the DTES. That's a story.

Wow! this comment thread grew

Wow! this comment thread grew fast.

To clarify, I am a staff person at SFPIRG which is a non-profit operating on a consensus decision making model and any opinions I have expressed (eg. about the corporatization of SFU and Universities, Enbridge, etc.) and the profanity I choose to use is a reflection of my personal perspective and I do not attempt to represent the entire diversity of perspectives at the organization I work for.  It takes our organization time for dialogue, learning, and listening to come towards unity on where we stand on specific issues.

That said we are a Social & Enviro Justice Org at SFU and our values reflect that of human rights, anti-oppression, and Indigenous sovereignty (to name a few of our values) and our mandate is to be a resource centre for education, research, and action on social & enviro justice issues.  I feel it is important to let folks know this so those who feel passionate about the Goldcorp SFU issue are aware that they can utilize the resources available at SFPIRG for their social + enviro justice organizing.

    You cannot begin to be a



You cannot begin to be a agent of change in an unimaginably vast and dominant capitalist society, working to implement positive and lasting cultural models that will create structures capable of being as challenging to the force that oppresses them without, in some moments, having interaction with the oppressor.

All of us who live in this city, or any urban environment, on some level, are woven into, and have dependencies to the capitalist fabric that generates it's existence.

That is not going to change overnight

If W2 has accepted some Cultural Olympiad Funding this past year, why are you not looking at how it was used? Or perhaps engaging in enough dialectical discovery to source the part of the story that W2 successfully refused to showcase any corporate logos on any W2 surfaces during the Cultural Olympiad. If you think for one moment that in todays current economic and capitalist culture that receiving any sort of funding while refusing to adhere to the corporate agenda is not a victory, then you need to pay more attention to what the current situation is in the dominant power today. Also, as previous posters mention, to take this money and bring it directly back into the community it was taken from, is one of the most beautifully subversive usages of this sort of funding. Perhaps some props to W2 for their ingenuity and integrity in the use of these funds would be more fitting.

To the detractors of W2: instead of criticizing why are you not helping to find funding to support W2?  If you have issues regarding community accessibility at W2, why don't you bring some DTES individuals to some of the art events yourself? You will see that W2 is a space that is welcoming, and placing priority on being inclusive with the community. Why don't you recognize that there has been nothing like this sort of venue in Vancouver in the 13 years I have lived here, and I am pretty sure not ever. 

Given the past history of successful activism of Irwin Oostindie, who has already left a legacy of positive change in this city and surrounding areas in BC, I find it incredibly unlikely that Irwin, and his team at W2 will suddenly be sitting in a boardroom of Goldcorp pandering for corporate money, furthermore I personally find the detractors ideological nitpicking to be closer to fundamentalist and dictatorial seedlings, due to their obvious belief that there is only one way to apply change and achieve the (same) goal - because as far as I can see, it seems to me that we all want the same goal.

If your ideology does not recognize that there is currently a political and corporate climate that is not going to just change overnight, than you are lost in a world of fantasy. 

Your detractions of W2 sound like nothing more that the grumblings of weary foot soldiers in a long long battle, turning on your peers by exaggerating scenarios and falsifying information in hopes of creating some feeling of victory within yourself. I cannot stress how dangerous that is to the integrity of a common vision. 

Though I do not know the specific fiscal details of W2's funding, from what I see they are predominately self generated in income, and what I do know for certain that I can see is that it is a very very small handful of individuals who are making that possible through relentless hours of hard work , while sticking to a mandate of inclusion and bridging social divides, that rivals anything that has ever been in this city before.

Given that the "W2 detractors" do not "allow" for any sort of government funding, how do you expect an organization in todays economic climate to even exist? The unfortunate current reality of our times is that these spaces require money to exist. Also, there must be  some vision to be able to see the possible positive outcome of W2 keeping even minimally connected to such institutions as SFU. The possibility that over time ideological shifts can begin to occur within the structures of a (sheltered) education system, into a real community, thereby providing a possible positive future shift in the dissemination of knowledge.

Why are the W2 detractors not contacting SFU to inquire about their acceptance of $10M? - I don't seem to recall that any of that money is mentioned as going to W2 - attacking W2 is like cutting down the healthy tree next to the tree that is rotten.


Actively looking into it

Hey FreedomJunky, thanks for you comment. Like I said earlier, I was looking into the Goldcorp story (I have yet to get a reply from SFU) when Irwin weighed in. Hence this became a venue in which to discuss all of these subjects. I suggest you read the earlier comments, to see that I simply stated a fact and Irwin's initial reply was defensive and accusatory, and opened up this whole conversation.

In the end this is a media outlet and one of the purposes of media is to criticize, opine and dig for answers. People seem to have strong opinions about this subject I am glad (after much prodding) that we're getting some answers.

I also must correct you. VIVO Media Arts, formerly known as Video In and before that Satellite Video Exchange Society has been operating in Vancouver for almost 40 years and it serves as a gallery space. screening room, production and post production facility, educational space, social venue, video archive (the largest in western Canada) video distributor etc. Oh yeah, they also refused Olympic $$.

  Thank you for your reply


Thank you for your reply stimulator.

I am aware of VIVO, their mandate and there stance during the olympics, and of course do respect them, and have accessed their resources many times over the years. 

They also have been in existence for 20 years...that is to say that after 20 years of establishing themselves, they are able to reject funding. They were able to grow strong for 20 years because they had community support, even when they were / are receiving arts council funding, which as previous posters have mentioned, is citizen tax dollars.

What I find most disturbing about reading how this community dialogue has unfolded is that what began as a story about SFU accepting funding from a multi-national organization with a history of human rights and environmental abuses, became a slam of W2, an organization that is at the beginning of a journey to fulfill a vision to become an inclusive community organization. 

I cannot fathom why the community would be so adamant about resisting such a community effort. I do not, for one moment believe that W2 has engaged in any more use of public money than VIVO has accessed, and I would like to say, that from my experience, VIVO has a mandate of community inclusion that is significantly lower than that which is actively practiced by W2, which includes providing space and opportunities to some of the most marginalized people in Vancouver, and works more directly with community members to bridge social, media and cultural divides than VIVO does. 

That is not an easy task in a community that still requires significant healing.

Community healing takes time, and so does the growth of a vision.

We need to to create positive community organizations and social mandates that last longer than single lifetimes, or we will be forever like activist nomads, packing up our tents to move to the next marginalized neighbourhood, like ticks on the bear's back, nothing more than a minor irritant.

Give W2 some time, and support to become what they envision.

Turning a news story about SFU and Goldcorp, that is so marginally related to W2, into a full out slander of W2, reeks of a personal agenda, which to the best of my knowledge is not what unbiased journalism is about.

Perhaps if you are truly interested in the direction that W2 is taking, why not organize a proper community dialogue, in person, and invite groups from all levels of the social fabric of the DTES and beyond to develop ideas for the future of the W2 community. I believe W2 has already done this. If you still have questions and concerns, why don't you organize an event, and then report on that. Not just be overly critical with bias, on a forum that is read by mostly laptop carrying, smartphone owning privileged and literate individuals, because I believe that the community that we are talking about has a considerable social base that does not fit into this social milieu.

Be forewarned though, it is a very large task to organize such events, and they do require money and human power, not to mention space. Perhaps you don't have the time, because like all of us, you have to pay rent and eat, therefore you engage in some form of paid work, and of course pay taxes that only marginally go to positive social reforms. 

But should you decide to hold to your vision, and work above and beyond to really make things happen to ensure that a community organizations hold a direction with integrity, might I suggest W2 as an excellent venue to hold such an event, as it would fit perfectly with their mandate, and they have considerable and valuable experience in creating such public forums.





W2 relevant to this discussion

Hey freedomjunky thanks again for your comment. You're version on how this whole thing unfolded is inaccurate. It's a fair question to ask if W2 was benefitting from the Goldcorp money since they have a working relationship with the art school and they will inhabit the same space. It's also relevant because W2 had no problem taking money from dubious sources in the past. It's also fair to ask weather W2 will boycott the SFU facilities after the Goldcorp announcement. That question has yet to be answered.

As Irwin pointed out, he's very aware of the damage Canadian mining companies have done to communities abroad, due to his succesful activism in the past. This makes him a perfect candidate to speak out against this donation. Imagine how helpful a statement by Irwin on behalf of W2 against the Goldcorp Centre would be for activists who are working on this issue. No such luck.

The rest that followed could have been avoided if Irwin would have provided straight answers. I cannot control if people have an ax to grind with Irwin/W2, and certainly if Irwin and others want to use this forum to debate issues related to matter at hand, so be it.  This is why I continued to be engaged in this discussion.

organizing meeting at SFU

first meeting of
Friday October 1
AQ 5135 at the Burnaby SFU campus

Last week the office of the SFU president announced that Canadian mining giant *Goldcorp* has donated $10million to the Woodwards based SFU branch… which has been rebranded "The Goldcorp Centre for the Arts."

A notorious environmental, human rights, and colonial criminal company, Goldcorp is facing federal criminal charges in Honduras and have been involved in legal battles in Argentina and Guatemala. The Inter-American Commission for Human Rights recommended that a Goldcorp mine in Guatemala be shut down because of widespread destruction and contamination of land and water affecting territories of at least 18 communities of the Maya people.

Goldcorp claims that they considered the welfare of the "depressed" Downtown Eastside and think they can be part of creating a "more sustainable future" there. But according to the Carnegie Community Action Project, the Woodwards project has had an immediate ripple effect of massive rent increases and gentrification. No one, not SFU's senior administration and certainly not Goldcorp ever asked if the mining corporation was welcome in the community, or at our school. Despite the rhetoric, the Goldcorp Arts Centre project is clearly something the University is doing to the neighbourhood, not with it.

SFU students and faculty are being marred by this project. We are NOT proud to be associated with a gentrification project, and we refuse to be bought out by Goldcorp. We can join the struggles against gentrification and colonial mining projects, and begin to create a culture of accountability at SFU that holds the administration to the ethics implied by their motto: "Thinking of the World."

You are invited to an organizing meeting this Friday to begin planning actions to oppose the "Goldcorp Centre for the Arts."

For more info:

And from the SFU website:

“Goldcorp is committed to making a positive difference here in Vancouver as well as those where we operate our mines,” says Goldcorp president Chuck Jeannes. “Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside has become one of Canada’s most depressed neighbourhoods, and we are optimistic that by working with Simon Fraser University, we will be able to reach out to its businesses and residents to help create a more sustainable future.”

SFU president Andrew Petter is enthusiastic about the opportunities that the Goldcorp endowment will provide for the university to strengthen its ties with the community. “This gift will ensure that our Contemporary Arts program is not just located in the Downtown Eastside, but also is a vital and contributing member of the neighbourhood. It will enable us to offer new programs that are specially tailored to the needs of the local community.”

--- ---
For info about the meeting and coming actions:

SFU Against Goldcorp and Gentrification

Thanks for posting this announcement

I reposted it as an event here

Is there a map link and a phone number I can include?

Phone: 604-809-2417 I don't

Phone: 604-809-2417

I don't know how to include map info... but here's directions if you want to include them

Directions: Go to SFU bus loop (via bus #135 from DT or others from University Production Way Skytrain) / The Academic Quadrangle (AQ) is the big building, ask around / AQ 5135 is on the fifth floor



Done deal

and the directions are good enough. thanks

Letter to SFU President

I'm very happy to see that this organization exists.

I have sent a personal letter to the President of SFU urging him to rethink the Goldcorp donation.

I urge you to do the same.

Below please find a copy of my letter.


Simon Fraser University

President Andrew Petter

8888 University Drive
Burnaby, BC, Canada, V5A-1S6, 250.721.8183 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              250.721.8183      end_of_the_skype_highlighting, 778.782.4641 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              778.782.4641      end_of_the_skype_highlighting, 778.782.4860 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              778.782.4860      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Mavis MacMillen
Director, President's Office, 778.782.4641 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              778.782.4641      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Dear Andrew Petter,
I am writing you concerning Goldcorp Inc's "gift" of $10,000,000 to the Simon Fraser University Goldcorp Centre for the Arts.

As much as I understand the need for funding in academic and arts institutions, I would like to think that universities have enough autonomy to decide whether or not to accept funding from certain sources. I would like to walk into a Canadian University and feel proud of their facilities and services, without wondering where the money came from. I believe you are in the position to take a stance as President of Simon Fraser University to decide whether or not you can ethically accept a donation from a company such as Goldcorp, and its resulting affiliation.

Simon Fraser University is a respectable B.C. institution, where my friends and neighbours have enjoyed studies, training and have achieved degrees.
An affiliation with Goldcorp, however, would certainly put my respect for this institution into question.

I have closely followed the news about Goldcorp's mining record in Guatemala and Honduras, as well as in other countries across Latin America, and I can only conclude that their profit is earned at the cost of the Latin American peoples and environment. As is the case with many foreign transnationals extracting national resources in Latin America, they have done so with impunity.


I strongly urge you to reconsider the university´s funding policies in order to accept funding only from companies whose practices can be ethically condoned by the university´s own practices. Until this issue has been discussed with your board of directors, I urge you to return the "gift" of $10,000,000 to Goldcorp, in order to maintain Simon Fraser University´s reputation as a respectable B.C. institution.


As an anthropologist conducting research on social impacts of industrial mega projects by transnational companies in Latin America, I have been ashamed on more than one occasion to admitting to being a Canadian, due to the practices of those companies. For many Latin Americans, Canada is a beautiful country up there in the north, but why do they come down here to exploit our people, land and resources for their own profits? The locals are not gaining anything from their presence and I find it hard to justify their behaviour, as it seems very un-Canadian to me.

For specific details about Goldcorp´s environmental and human rights violations in Guatemala and Honduras, I refer you to This human rights organization has dedicated much time and effort to documenting and denouncing the behaviour of transnational companies in Latin America. My personal and professional experience is concentrated in Chile, where Canadian mining companies such as Barrick Gold are engaged in practices that would never be allowed in Canada, among others.

I do not see any justification in the acceptance of a gift from such a company as Goldcorp by an educational institution such as Simon Fraser University. Accepting such a gift implies that the University is condoning its practices and enjoying the profits that are stained with blood and environmental pollution in other parts of the world. And I would hope that this is certainly not the case?

Please find a list of documentation below to consult in order for you to draw your own conclusions about Goldcorp´s record in Latin America.


Suzanne Nievaart
B.Sc. Social Anthropology
M.A. Latin America Studies

Pender Island, BC, Canada

In April 2010, CTV's W5 program aired "Lost Paradise", taking a close look at Goldcorp's mining operation in Guatemala, and HudBay Mineral's nickel mining operation in Guatemala.  It is recommended viewing:
In 2010, a new documentary film about Goldcorp's mine in Guatemala was released: "The Business Of Gold In Guatemala".  It is recommended viewing and available on request.
In 2009, a documentary film was released about Goldcorp's mine in Honduras: "All That Glitters Is Not Gold".  It is recommended viewing and available on request.
At you will find articles, urgent actions and reports about Goldcorp's mines in Guatemala and Honduras, going back over 7 years.  At, you will find "Investing In Conflict", a 2008 comprehensive report on Goldcorp's mining operations across the Americas.

We need people who are

We need people who are willing to stand up and point out the problems and consequences of accepting tainted corporate money. It seems to me that to find a real solution and form any kind of resistance, we need to dig far deeper than any single corporate donation and namesake. This isn't about public money and corporate donors but is about opening discussion and finding solutions to the problems. W2 cannot exist without money. I think if it wants to build any kind of legacy of support for marginalized people, it HAS to stand up and make a statement. But it should do so with the support of this community. Without that, w2's can never be in a position to refuse money like VIVO did. Also, to set the record straight, VIVO's website says they've been active since 1973. I bet they received support and advice from the community and worked together to find ways of resistance. You should read their book. Creative community resistance IS possible. They've been doing it for almost 40 years. We need to find ways of mutual support for OUR needs as a community. These conversations are the beginning. Conversations not Accusations.

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