Group Stages Mock Death Outside new RBC Branch in Protest of Bank’s Involvement in Dirty Oil

posted by Josh Ran

By Maryam Adrangi

Feigned Collapses Represent Real Impacts of Tar Sands Destruction, and Water Pollution of First Nations Communities Throughout The Athabasca Delta

Customers visiting RBC’s newly opened downtown banking centre today were met with the sight of motionless bodies strewn along the pavement in front of the bank entrance.  The bodies were those of approximately x Rainforest Action Network (RAN) activists who, in protest against RBC’s continued financing of Alberta tar sands production, feigned death after symbolically drinking contaminated tar sands water.

  photo: Anita Sarkeesian

Leading all other Canadian banks, over the past four years RBC has provided $8.9 billion in financial support to companies operating in the tar sands.  The tar sands, which are devastating the regional environment, contaminating water sources, undermining local First Nation’s people’s health and preventing Canada from meeting its climate commitments, have become a source of global shame for Canada.  RAN is asking RBC to cease financing tar sands production and instead, provide financing for the production of renewable energy.
  photo: Anita Sarkeesian

“RBC, as Canada’s largest bank, is positioned to lead the country towards a future of energy sustainability and environmental stewardship,” says RAN activist Kimia Ghomeshi.  “Instead, RBC has chosen to become the ‘ATM’ for companies seeking financing for dirty tar sands production.  I think RBC’s customers would like to know what their bank is doing with the money in their savings and chequing accounts.”
Tar sands projects, which extract and process bitumen, a type of crude oil, have become the leading cause of CO2 emissions growth in Canada.  A water intensive process, production has resulted in the creation of over 130 km2 of toxic tailing ponds, which are now estimated to leak 11 million litres of polluted water into the Athabasca watershed daily. Downstream from the tar sands, a Government of Alberta health study has confirmed that First Nations’ communities are now experiencing elevated levels of rare cancers.

5573_816121564170_48906209_47595358_8340672_n photo: Anita Sarkeesian

The protesters emphasized that RBC’s support of tar sands production is not consistent with its public commitments to leadership in the areas of corporate environmental sustainability and water conservation. As Melina Laboucan-Massimo, who is a member of the Lubicon Cree Nation, asked at the recent RBC annual shareholders meeting, “If RBC is serious about supporting clean water, why are they financing projects that are contaminating the lakes and rivers around my community?”
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photo: Anita Sarkeesian