Winnipeg demonstrators protest RBC’s fossil fuel investments

Supporters gather in solidarity of Indigenous land protectors. Global News

A group of demonstrators gathered outside the RBC branch on Main Street Saturday to protest the organization’s support of oil and gas projects.

A 2023 report called Banking on Climate Chaos revealed RBC invested over 40 billion in the fossil fuel industry in 2022.

“That’s not ok,” says Kirby Cote, one of the organizers behind the demonstration. “We need to hold them accountable for the money that they’re giving people who are destroying our planet.”

Cote says the rally is also meant to show solidarity with Indigenous land defenders.

“They have not had their voices heard. They have not been allowed a seat at the table, and there has been no actionable change. RBC continues to fund fossil fuels, which directly creates violence to our Indigenous communities here in Canada and destroys their land,” Cote says.

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In a statement to Global News, an RBC spokesperson says they “embrace (their) role as a bank that will support clients and communities in accelerating the transition to a greener economy.”

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They add that the bank is “actively engaging with Indigenous leaders and communities to discuss constructive ideas that reinforce reconciliation and support community healing and prosperity.”

RBC also says they plan to spend $1 billion in the next 6 years on developing “innovative climate solutions.”

But Vanessa Gray with Indigenous Climate Action says she doesn’t have much confidence in that promise.

“Anything that seems like a major movement for RBC to be respecting Indigenous and environmental rights should be well criticized.”

Gray says RBC needs to be held accountable for the role it plays in continuing Canada’s fossil fuel use.

“I think it doesn’t tell the full and true story if we focus on fossil fuel, mining, and natural gas companies alone,” Gray says. “Because their lifeline is the banks.”

Gray says Indigenous nations need free, prior, and informed consent of projects happening on their land.

She adds a group of Indigenous land defenders will head to RBC’s annual general meeting in Toronto on April 11, looking for a seat at the table.

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Saturday’s demonstration was just one of a series of protests across Canada to mark Fossil Fool’s Day.

It was attended, in solidarity, by a group of pro-Palestinian demonstrators, who hold weekly rallies in Winnipeg’s downtown.

Click to play video: 'Climate activists rally for second annual “Fossil Fools Day”'
Climate activists rally for second annual “Fossil Fools Day”

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