Environmental racism and corporate colonialism revealed at RBC’s AGM

Thanks to Canadian BDS Coalition member, Human Rights for All,  for their solidarity  at the RBC AGM on April 5, 2023, in Saskatoon.

With vehicular access blocked and two snipers on the roof, at least 150 environmental and Indigenous  rights activists rallied in front of the Delta Bessborough Hotel in  Saskatoon where RBC was holding their AGM.

They were there to protest against RBC’s putting  99% of their energy investments in fossil fuels. Since the Paris climate agreement was signed, RBC has provided over $270 billion to fossil fuel companies, with last year representing a 45 per cent increase in fossil fuel funding from the year before.( National Observer) in spite of being  repeatedly warned  by  the United Nations and the International Energy Agency  to stop fossil fuel expansion.

Protesters also came to show solidarity  with a delegation of Hereditary Chiefs, elders and youth, who had traveled from Wet’suwet’en territory in British Columbia, where RBC funds the 670 km  Coastal Gaslink Pipeline construction on unceded territory without consent from the Hereditary Chiefs who lawfully  hold the title to the land.

This project lies at the root of the extreme violence used on Indigenous people by the RCMP’s Community-Industry Response Group (C-IRG) — a unit created specifically to protect resource extraction projects on Indigenous lands.  Exactly a week earlier, C-IRG raided a Gidimt’en village site and arrested five Wet’suwet’en land and water protectors — mostly young women and girls. (Ricochet)

While the delegation was inside, the supporters outside chanted, joined in round dances and drumming circles and staged die-ins. Pamphlets were handed out to draw attention to RBC’s investments in  Palantir which helps oppress the Indigenous people of Palestine.

Following the meeting, the crowd listened silently while the delegation and other activists  related how they were treated  disrespectfully and segregated in an adjoining room, even though they had the proper proxy papers which should have secured them access to the main room. (National Observer)

Supporters were told how security guards physically prevented  many Black and Indigenous leaders from attending the meeting taking place in the main room, forcing them to participate from a secondary room where the AGM was livestreamed.  full story here

Richard Brooks, Climate Finance Program Director at Stand.earth  said that he had, “Never in [my] life seen this type of racism, exclusion and physical intimidation at an AGM and [I’ve] been doing this work for decades.” https://twitter.com/standearth/status/1643643410098601987?s=20

press release from Stand.Earth called RBC’s threats of arrests and physical violence towards the Indigenous delegation “further confirmation of the bank’s commitment to corporate colonialism”

Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief Na’moks  said “RBC can’t claim to take reconciliation seriously while funding violence against Indigenous women and land defenders on our own territories.”(Ricochet)

“We do not own the land, we are simply caretakers,” Na’Moks said. “As much as RBC, Canada, and British Columbia try to extinguish our rights and title, we will remain the authority on our land. We do this for the betterment of all.”(Rabble)

Roishetta Ozane, a Gulf Coast environmental justice advocate from Louisiana, told about the effects of chronic water-and air pollution on her children.  RBC helps finance seven liquid natural gas export terminals in Texas and Louisiana, along with over a dozen other oil and gas projects in the region.

“RBC only cares about money as they continue to fund fossil fuel projects along the Gulf Coast located in predominantly BIPOC communities, and then suppress our voices when we speak out,” Ms Ozane said. (Ricochet)

“RBC claims it helps kids, yet it is actively financing the destruction of our future,” said Shaylee Holland, a Wet’suwet’en youth. “We are the ones who will have to live with the impacts of climate change and pollution from projects like Coastal GasLink. This is hypocritical and morally wrong.”

Richard Brooks, Climate Finance Program Director at Stand.earth  said that he had, “Never in [my] life seen this type of racism, exclusion and physical intimidation at an AGM and [I’ve] been doing this work for decades.” https://twitter.com/standearth/status/1643643410098601987?s=20

Dani Michie, of youth-led ‘Banking on a Better Future’, told the crowd: “RBC relies on students and young people as a key customer demographic and young talent that can be funneled into the banks’ workforce. They try to sell us an image of sustainability through greenwashing efforts, but we’re not buying it.”

The Competition Bureau of Canada is currently investigating RBC for “allegedly misleading consumers with climate-related advertising while continuing to increase financing for coal, oil and gas.”

Outcome on resolutions:

While RBC executives recommended that all shareholder resolutions on climate action and Indigenous rights in its proxy book be rejected, and the resolutions did not pass, they received record and growing support.

This included a shareholder resolution that would “push RBC to operationalize ‘free, prior and informed consent’ into its corporate policies and activities” i.e. respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) which is now law in Canada.

Another resolution sought to end the financing of fossil fuel expansion.

Stand Earth’s Richard Brooks noted that the New York City comptroller, who manages US$242 billion worth of pension funds, filed a resolution with RBC urging it to set 2030 absolute emission reduction targets. This too did not pass.  The resolution “speaks volumes to how RBC is seen on the global stage,” he said.

An April 13 2023  report shows that RBC is  now the #1 in the world funder of fossil fuels.

RBC AGM video

The following are hand outs provided during the event.









RBC Prevails in holding unethical investment in Palantir despite stocks plummeting 70%


We join together to call out the Royal Bank of Canada on its ongoing colonialism from Turtle Island to Palestine

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