After years of lobbying by a small community of Catholic sisters from eastern Canada, the world’s largest producer of potash is abandoning mining operations in territory south of Morocco.
Canadian-owned fertilizer giant Nutrien — created by a 2017 merger of Saskatoon-based Potash Corp. and Calgary-based Agrium Inc. — will cease all potash shipments from occupied and disputed Western Sahara territory before Jan. 1, 2019.
“It’s not our place as Canadians to go in and tell other countries how to live or what to do,” said Sisters of Mercy of Newfoundland superior Sr. Elizabeth Davis. “It certainly is our place as Canadians — if we are living or working or present in other countries — to act with justice and to act ethically.”
The Sisters of Mercy is a congregation of about 75 women which ministers in Canada and in Peru, with a focus on alleviating injustice and serving the poor and oppressed, especially women.
Davis stresses the intervention by her congregation was not the only factor, or perhaps even the major one, in the Nutrient decision. But others have expressed admiration for how the sisters galvanized support for their cause. In 2016 they led shareholder revolts at the annual general meetings of Potash Corp. and Agrium Inc.