Nine student unions sign joint-statement: Call on banks to divest, respect Indigenous sovereignty

September 29, 2023

Reps from 9 Canadian student unions have signed a joint statement calling out RBC, TD, BMO, CIBC and Scotiabank for their continued funding of fossil fuels and projects that violate Indigenous rights. After a summer of record-breaking heat waves and wildfires from coast to coast, student unions are calling on the banks to divest from fossil fuels and respect the rights of Indigenous nations.

This school year student unions are demanding the Big 5 take the climate crisis and Indigenous rights seriously.

They call on RBC, TD, Scotiabank, BMO, and CIBC to:
1. Drop the Coastal Gaslink and Trans Mountain pipelines;
2. Divest from Fossil Fuels: Immediately divest from fossil fuel expansion projects and phase out support for all fossil fuel projects by 2040;
3. Respect Indigenous Peoples’ right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent as per the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People

“There is a growing grassroots movement of youth across so-called Canada who are concerned about their futures, and are coming together to demand a swift end to fossil fuel expansion and the violation of Indigenous rights. RBC and the big 5 Canadian banks have carefully crafted an image of being supportive of young people, meanwhile their direct financing of fossil fuel projects like the Coastal Gaslink pipeline threatens students’ futures by destabilizing our shared climate,” says Levi Clarkson, Campus Organizing Lead at Change Course. “We are in a climate emergency, and there is no time to wait. Powerful institutions like RBC need to put their money where their mouth is, and stop funding climate collapse.”

“This summer, students at our University saw the effects of the climate crisis first-hand. From the endless air quality warnings in Toronto, to the countless extreme weather events our students experienced across the world, young people are waking up to the crushing reality of a world we had no hand in making, added Aidan Thompson, Vice-President, Public and University Affairs at the University of Toronto Students’ Union. “It’s time for our country to act — and that starts with our financial institutions, who have the power to influence the economy in ways that few others can imagine. It’s time for the banks to divest.”

“Mi’kma’ki has faced heat waves, hurricanes, wildfires, and floods, brought on by the climate crisis, which is only being made worse by our universities’ continued investment in fossil fuels, says Aideen Reynolds, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-Nova Scotia. “Even more so, the Big 5 Banks and RBC in particular continue to directly invest in fossil fuels, violent resource extraction, and the destruction of our planet. Post-secondary institutions and the Big 5 Banks refuse to prioritize the future of the planet we all share over the short-term benefit of fossil fuel investments.”

The statement was signed by
• University of Victoria Students’ Society
• Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario
• Concordia Arts and Science Federation of Associations
• Canadian Federation of Students Nova Scotia
• University of Ottawa Students’ Union
• York Federation of Students
• Trent Central Student Association
• Simon Fraser Student Society
• University of Toronto Students’ Union

These student unions represent over 450,000 students. In addition to this statement, the York Federation of Students, the University of Toronto Student Union and the University of Ottawa Student unions have all passed motions banning RBC sponsorships, and promising not to renew leases with RBC OnCampus chapters when they come to term.

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