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UBC Okanagan students join in nationwide protest against RBC

The group takes the protest to Kelowna City Hall March 3

Post-secondary students across Canada are protesting on their respective campuses against the Royal Bank of Canada.

Students at the University of B.C. Okanagan are taking action in the University Centre today (March 2).

“We are gathered here today in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en First Nation which is located in the north-eastern part of the central interior in so-called B.C.,” said Erin Delfs, a UBCO student and member of Fridays for Future Kelowna. “Currently the Coastal GasLink Pipeline is being built through Wet’suwet’en nation and being drilled under their sacred river unlawfully. RBC is the biggest lender of the CGL Pipeline and RBC has a very strong presence on campus. So, today we’re gathered as part of a nationwide action day organized by Banking for a Better Future, where students on campuses across Canada are protesting the presence of RBC.”

Fridays for Future Kelowna is the youth activist group hosting the protest locally.

Delfs said that to date RBC has contributed nearly $270-billion towards fossil fuel projects since 2016.

READ MORE: ‘Trend of escalating violence’: Coastal GasLink decries pipeline sabotage claims on anarchist site

“Pipeline development affects us all in that we all breathe this air, we all need clean water to drink, so as humans living in the world the pipeline is detrimental to our health and to our futures as we descend in rapidly increasing climate chaos. But also, it’s important for students to take a pause and think about what RBC is doing, because so many of RBC’s initiatives are youth facing yet RBC is going behind these facades of youth facing initiatives to fund the climate chaos that takes away our future as young people.”

RBC wrote in an email statement to Capital News:

Climate change represents a significant global challenge and the transition will require one of the largest economic transformations in generations. As a financial institution, we are focusing our attention where we will have the biggest impact – helping our clients reduce their emissions and supporting initiatives that bring green solutions to market. We are committed to achieving net-zero in our lending by 2050, and have established interim emissions reduction targets that will help us drive action and measure progress. These targets are informed by science and reflect a measured and deliberate approach to climate action.

RBC supports energy development that is done in an environmentally and socially responsible manner including meaningful consultations with Indigenous peoples. RBC strives to be the leading financial institution in Canada to work with Indigenous people towards reconciliation, supporting economic development, community endeavours and educational opportunities. RBC respects the inherent right of Indigenous peoples to self-determination in accordance with international and domestic law.

“Our goal is to get RBC to immediately divest from the CGL Pipeline,” said Delfs. “We need to stop the construction. We need to get the RCMP off the territory that they don’t belong to. Then to do that in a more local sense, our goal is to increase student awareness, increase their voices being heard to the Student Union which governs the partnership with RBC on campus. We need the Student Union to understand that this partnership is not reconciliation and it’s not climate justice.”

The protest is being held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the University Centre building on the UBCO campus.

The group will then take the protest to Kelowna City Hall on March 3 at 4 p.m.

Learn more about the protest or sign the petition by visiting the group’s Instagram FridaysforFuture.Kelowna.

READ MORE: Protest against RBC funding fossil fuels to take place at UBC Okanagan


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