Community Members Take Direct Action, Call for TD Bank to Defund the Dakota Access Pipeline
MONTREAL – (February 1st, 2017): Today, community members in Tio’tia:ke (Montreal) took action in solidarity with frontline land defenders and water protectors at Standing Rock. Around one hundred people marched through the streets to draw attention to this crucial struggle for climate and environmental justice. They delivered petitions signed by more than 500,000 people to two local TD branches, demanding that TD Bank withdraw their financial support for the Dakota Access Pipeline. Spokespeople from Climate Justice Montreal negotiated entry into the banks so that they could bring the message from Standing Rock and its allies directly to bank managers, letting them know that people would continue to take action until TD ends its complicity in funding destructive pipeline projects.
As part of a global indigenous-led coalition, dozens of actions like this are being held around the world this week to deliver copies of the petition message and their signatures to local branches and global headquarters of the 17 banks directly funding DAPL: Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ, BayernLB, BBVA, BNP Paribas, Citigroup, Crédit Agricole, DNB ASA, ICBC, ING, Intesa Sanpaolo, Mizuho Bank, Natixis, SMBC, Société Générale, SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, TD Bank, Wells Fargo. A full list of actions can be found here.
The Montreal TD Bank Action follows the recent presidential memorandum fast tracking the Dakota Access Pipeline and environmental reviews of extraction projects, as well as news that the Acting Secretary of the Army is pressuring the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to grant easement for the project, which would essentially circumvent the expected environmental impact assessment requirements.
The completion of the DAPL pipeline is now critically dependent on the 17 banks jointly providing a loan for the project. All of them are facing massive protest against their involvement. Several banks in the consortium have now also openly criticised the project sponsors for not being sufficiently responsive to the concerns of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
The pressure on the bank consortium to terminate their involvement in the project increased further over the last few weeks when hundreds of thousands of people worldwide signed petitions to the banks on the project loan for the Dakota Access Pipeline. Thousands more have closed their accounts and defunded over $50 million and counting. This week, activists are showing up to make their voices heard–in person and on behalf of another half-a-million people worldwide–to dozens of banks that have voluntarily reported investing over $2.3 Billion through checking, mortgage, and credit card accounts.
The financial institutions that fund the Dakota Access pipeline are emerging as important targets in the global fight for indigenous rights, climate justice, and water protection. Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II said: "By attempting to fast track DAPL, President Trump has made it clear that his priorities lie with his wealthy contributors rather than the public interest. Banks now have an opportunity to take a stand against this reckless assault on our treaty rights and water, or be complicit and continue to lose millions."
Judith LeBlanc, Director, Native Organizers Alliance and member of the Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma, “The decision to build the Dakota Access Pipeline was made in the halls of power by a handful representing banks and corporations willing to sacrifice Mother Earth for profit. The decision to stop it will be made by the many, all across the world, who know that Mother Earth and water give us life. Time is now for investors to also stand for Mother Earth. We started at Standing Rock, now Standing Rock is everywhere.”
Kristen Perry, organizer with Climate Justice Montreal, said, “We need to stop funding projects which endanger water, land, and our communities, and instead follow the lead of defenders calling for direct action and support. It is crucial that we centre justice for communities on the frontline of the crisis and the forefront of solutions, and pushing for divestment and the defunding of destructive projects are tangible ways for us to take action in solidarity with Indigenous communities across colonial borders.”
The Sacred Stone Camp and their allies have vowed to stand their ground as long as DAPL construction equipment remains on Oceti Sakowin treaty land. As long as financial investments continue to be committed to projects that abuse human rights and devastate our climate and waters, people will take a stand. Standing Rock is only the latest in a series of such struggles, and unfortunately, it will probably not be the last.
Climate Justice Montreal is a group pursuing environmental and climate justice through education, mobilization and collective action in solidarity with directly affected communities. As a grassroots group, they take a solidarity approach to organizing, and are committed to anti-oppression and decolonization.