Montreal Protest Takes on Banks in Solidarity With Standing Rock

Protesters Call Out TD Bank for $365 Million Investment

  • Protesters marched on two TD Bank branches in downtown Montreal to demand the bank’s divestment from the Dakota Access pipeline Wednesday afternoon. Feb. 1, 2016 Photo Ian Down

  • Protesters marched on two TD Bank branches in downtown Montreal to demand the bank’s divestment from the Dakota Access pipeline Wednesday afternoon. Feb. 1, 2016 Photo Ian Down

Protesters marched on two TD Bank branches in downtown Montreal to demand the bank’s divestment from the Dakota Access pipeline Wednesday afternoon.

At noon, roughly 75 people delivered petitions to two Ste. Catherine St. Ouest branches calling for the bank to withdraw its more than $300 million investment to the pipeline. Police led the way as the group chanted, “You can’t eat money! You can’t drink oil! Come on TD, keep it in the soil!”

The march was organized by Climate Justice Montreal. As explained on their website, the group advocates for environmental justice “through education, mobilization” and solidarity demonstrations for groups affected.

The petition, which calls for 17 banks directly invested in the project to divest, has received more than 143,000 signatures.

“We are decrying a system that tends to put pipelines and profit over people,” said organizer Kristian Gareau. “We don’t want to occupy the bank, we want to go and pass our message. Of course we’re a little angry, but we’re also civil.”

Nicola Protetch carried a sign which read “Divest; Water is Life.”

“This protest is just to show that there is a large network of support [for affected communities],” she said.“This is a global battle; we share land, we share water. Borders are kind of redundant when it comes to climate change.”

According to Food and Water Watch, a grassroots climate justice organization, TD has contributed $365 million in the form of project-level loans and a revolving line of credit for Sunoco Logistics, a member of the Energy Transfer family, which is the group behind the DAPL.

The demonstration came one week after U.S. President Donald Trump issued an executive order fast-tracking approval of the DAPL.

Originally scheduled for completion New Year’s Day, construction on the pipeline was stalled by protesters from Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota over concerns the pipeline threatened their water supply. The protest gained international attention and sparked demonstrations across the globe.

Calls for divestment have been happening all across Canada and the U.S. According to defunddapl.org, Seattle’s City Council unanimously voted to divest from Wells Fargo, one of the banks invested in the project, because of its ties to the DAPL.

Gareau says several banks, including TD, are currently in discussion with Sioux tribal councils about the future of the project. However, the collaborative nature of the investment makes action without the consent of all investors difficult, and many banks have refused to meet with the councils.

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