It’s time for Brock to ditch Scotiabank

Photo by: Brenden Cowan

It’s time for Brock University to ditch Scotiabank. 

During the first week of March, students across Canada took to protesting their universities’ partnerships with on-campus banks, including RBC, Scotiabank, BMO, TD, and CIBC. Their call-to-action is simple: divest power from banks with financial ties to fossil fuels. 

All joining together through the student-led non-profit, Banking on a Better Future, students from the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary, McMaster University, the University of Toronto, the University of Windsor, Concordia University, McGill University, York University and the University of Guelph have taken to organizing against their on-campus fossil fuel banks. 

The request of the organization for universities is three-pronged, to first close accounts with the “Big 5” banks, then remove on-campus bank branches like the “RBC On Campus” kiosks, and finally end all bank sponsorships for university-affiliated happenings, such as bursaries and scholarships. 

This call-to-action comes from the jaw-dropping amount of money that these five banks pour into fossil fuel development, such as pipeline construction, as seen with those like the Coastal GasLink pipeline development that will span throughout British Columbia. These fossil fuel developments pose significant threats, not only to the environment at-large, but also to Indigenous land rights and sovereignty. 

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives calls said projects “carbon bombs,” and they’re right. The Coastal GasLink pipeline alone has had over 50 environmental violations from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change during its production already, all surrounding the pipeline construction’s threat to sensitive waterways which can cause major harm to fish and water quality. And, this type of development is coming within the greater context of the ramping-up of the effects of climate change that are already severe. 

One of the largest groups of advocates against fossil fuel developments in the name of environmental protection are Indigenous peoples like the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs, whose land would be nonconsensually built on for the Coastal GasLink pipeline. Yet, the development of this pipeline not only threatens the surrounding environment, but also the land rights and sovereignty of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, as affirmed through the Delgamuukw Supreme Court case. Such a violation of their land title also falls into violation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which necessitates Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC). 

While RBC remains at the forefront of fossil fuel investments – with an astonishing $236 billion being poured into fossil fuels between 2016 and 2022 – Scotiabank has similarly continued mass investments. According to a Greenpeace report, Scotiabank has invested over $195 billion into the fossil fuel sector over just a five year period, including over $300 million into the aforementioned Coastal GasLink pipeline. 

While Scotiabank has recently exited from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers – also known as CAPP – this does not mean that they will end investments in fossil fuels. Individuals like Eric St. Pierre, the executive director of the Trottier Family Foundation, stated that Scotiabank’s funding has only increased an alleged 87 per cent in just 2021 alone. 

Brock University continues to have a relationship with Scotiabank, with an on-campus branch being located in the Thistle Complex and various ABMs being located in places like around the corner from Hungry Badger. Scotiabank is also tied to other aspects of Brock like Scotiabank Hall, which the bank donated $650,000 to for its development. 

It’s time for Brock to stop supporting fossil fuel funders and stand in solidarity with people around the country fighting for climate justice. 

As Banking on a Better Future calls for: “pledge not to bank with climate criminals.” 

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