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Langara campaign to kick RBC off campus

Bradley Hughes

April 25, 2023
The Royal Bank of Canada is the fifth largest investor in fossil fuels in the world. Our only hope in avoiding catastrophic climate disasters is to end the production of fossil fuels quickly. RBC has bet over $270 billion that we will fail to do this. The bank is also one of the biggest funders of the Coastal Gaslink project – a pipeline to bring fracked gas to the coast for shipping overseas. For years now, the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have opposed the project, as the pipeline runs through their unceded land. RBC is profiting from BC and Coastal Gaslink’s colonial violence and oppression on Wet’suwet’en people, who have never ceded their right to exclusively use and occupy their territories.
For these reasons students and workers at university and college campuses across so called Canada are organizing to kick RBC off their campuses.
snəw̓eyəɬ leləm̓ - Langara College is on the ancestral, traditional, and unceded land of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) people in so-called Vancouver. The International Socialists club on campus has started a petition to demand that the college board of governors remove the RBC location from campus, end all funding from RBC, and all promotion of the bank on campus and at college events.
Socialist Worker talked to students and professors at the college.
Winter Paul is a student in the business management program. They explained that the college claims to be “part of a sustainable society by having LEED Gold Certified buildings, being a carbon neutral campus, bringing a comprehensive waste reduction and recycling program into action, encouraging sustainable transportation options for commute by providing bike racks and carpooling incentives.” But if the college wants a sustainable future, it should end its relationship, “with an ecocidal company investing in the past.”
Paul also pointed out that the college’s responsibility for reconciliation with Indigenous people means that it, “should divest itself from RBC who has upright shrugged off Wet’suwet’en people’s opposition to build Coastal Gaslink pipeline.”
Another student, Amaranta MacAllister, links their opposition to RBC on campus to the role of banks in society at large, “Many point to the jobs and the economic relief created by the pipeline, located on mostly unceded land, and RBC investment for why we should also support this bank. We must, then, ask the most important questions: why must we rely on this conglomerate—who has successfully evaded environmental resolutions and policies at every turn—to help our economy? Why do we allow these commercial institutions to operate in open defiance to the green transition promised, but vaguely expanded upon, by our government? Are we, as working class citizens, apt to accept the running of our country and our future by for-profit banks, with RBC being the definite lead in a gang of fossil fuel investing banks in Canada?”
Erfan Rezaie teaches physics at snəw̓eyəɬ leləm̓ - Langara. He told us that, “it’s hypocritical of the college to, on the one hand, claim they are committed to sustainability, and on the other hand have a close partnership with RBC, a climate criminal in the worst sense. Students and faculty were of course never asked whether they wanted to have RBC on campus, so if we are sincere about solving the climate crisis, the least we can do is demand our institutions stop supporting fossil fuel extraction.”
The campaign to kick RBC off campus at snəw̓eyəɬ leləm̓ - Langara is just getting started.
Email to get involved.
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