Quebecois NGOs and Citizen’s Groups Mark the #DivestTheGlobe International Day of Action

Press release - October 23, 2017
Octobre 23, 2017 (MONTRÉAL) — Today, the Indigenous organisation ‘Mazaska Talks’* invited First Nations communities and their allies around the world to join a series of mass global actions from October 23rd to 25th to warn banks and financial institutions that continuing to fund climate disaster and the abuse of Indigenous Peoples will result in a massive global divestment movement.

Octobre 23, 2017 (MONTRÉAL) Today, the Indigenous organisation Mazaska Talks*  invited First Nations communities and their allies around the world to join a series of mass global actions from October 23rd to 25th to warn banks and financial institutions that continuing to fund climate disaster and the abuse of Indigenous Peoples will result in a massive global divestment movement.  

These mass global actions coincided with the Equator Principles Annual Meeting where 92 of the world’s largest banks meet in Sao Paulo, Brazil, to discuss climate policy and the rights of Indigenous Peoples.  The transactions of these banks accelerate the climate crisis and bring us further away from reaching the objectives of the Paris Accord.  

In North America, the rights of Indigenous Peoples are frequently flouted with cynical disregard by oil production and the construction of pipelines transporting tar sands oil - the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel - across their territories and waterways.

Konwenni Jacobs, Mohawk of Kahnawake, ‘Land and Water Protector’: “people of all colours from the 4 directions are standing up together UNITED. We are uniting for the love of the planet and to show the greedy corporations enough is enough. Keep up the good fight My water and land protectors and even our keyboard warriors. Our actions have a ripple effect across Turtle Island.”

In Montreal, a collective of grassroots groups and environmental NGOs in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples organised a rally to respond to the call to action of ‘Mazaska Talks’ and to demand that Mouvement Desjardins stop funding the tar sands and the construction of pipelines.   After having approved a loan of 145 million dollars to Kinder Morgan for their Trans Mountain pipeline project, the Mouvement des Caisses Desjardins announced a moratorium on all new investment in pipelines.  However, Desjardins has still not made this moratorium permanent nor withdrawn its current investments, despite the official demands of the First Nations opposed to the Trans Mountain, Keystone XL and Line 3 pipelines.  

Isabelle, Montreal resident and member of Alternatives, a Quebec-based international solidarity organisation, stated that “Today, actions like ours are taking place in 44 cities across North America.  Other actions will take place in Africa, Europe and Asia tomorrow and wednesday.”

The 150 First Nations and Tribes that have signed the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion officially oppose any pipeline, rail, or maritime project that would enable the transport of tar sand oil as the exploitation of the tar sands threatens Indigenous territories, waterways, and the planet’s ecosystems.  

In their name, Grand Chief Serge Simon of the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake proclaimed: “we would like to be able to say to any Quebecer worried about climate change that they should do business with Desjardins, but to do so, Desjardins would have to abandon the hundreds of millions of dollars of loans that they have made to Kinder Morgan, TransCanada, and Enbridge.  These companies are building the tar sands pipelines (Trans Mountain Expansion, Keystone XL and LIne 3) that Indigenous Peoples are fighting against across the continent.”  

The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and the new tar sands pipelines - Keystone XL, Ligne 3, Trans Mountain Expansion - increase and accelerate the harm caused by this exploitation, without even mentioning the risk of oil spills.***

For his part, Patrick Bonin, Climate & Energy Campaigner of Greenpeace Canada stated that “financial institutions like Desjardins that claim to be ‘responsible’ should not invest in projects that violate the rights of Indigenous Peoples, threaten flora and fauna, damage precious ecosystems and imperil the drinking water of millions of people.   These kinds of projects chain us to a dangerous dependence on fossil fuels and pose too many risks to be tenable.  Already, some large international banks such as BNP Paribas, ING and US Bank have withdrawn from these pipeline projects.  It is time that Desjardins and the rest of the financial sector to the same thing.”

The groups are fighting to stop the expansion of the tar sands and to pressure banks and financial institutions to do the right thing and stop supporting these projects.  

Jen Gobby from Climate Justice  Montréal wrapped up saying: “the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (a major institutional investor that holds almost 300 billion dollars in assets and manages our pension funds) has more than 16 billion dollars its investments in fossil fuel projects. The recent announcement by the CDPQ that it plans to reduce the carbon footprint of its overall portfolio by 25 per cent by the year 2025 is hugely insufficient. Its funds are being used right now to actively violate the inherent, treaty, constitutional and international rights of indigenous people, through projects like the Kinder Morgan pipeline. We refuse to allow our pension funds to be used to violate indigenous rights. We call on Desjardins and the CDPQ to be leaders in moving Quebec towards a more socially just and environmentally safe society!”

Over 40 rallies and demonstrations are planned today across North America as part of the first day of action by Mazaska Talks.  Other activities will take place on tomorrow in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, and on wednesday 25th in Africa and Asia.  

The collective consists of: : Citoyen.ne.s de Kahnawake et Kanesatake; le Traité Autochtone contre l’expansion des sables bitumineux, Idle No More Québec ; Alternatives; Climate Justice Montréal; Leap Montréal; Greenpeace Canada; Front Commun pour la Transition Énergétique; Fondation Coule pas chez nous; Mur de femmes contre les oléoducs et les sables bitumineux; Stop Oléoducs Outaouais; Divest McGill; Désinvestissons UdeM; Réseau Vigilance Hydrocarbures Québec (RVHQ).

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Other Quotes:

Nicolas Chevalier, Leap Montréal : “The fact that these fossil fuel investments continue increases the weight of negative impacts on the planet’s air, water, earth, and environment. Desjardin’s moratorium should be made permanent.  Desjardin must take the necessary steps to divest completely from all fossil fuel projects.  They could be an example to follow by making all of their investments sustainable and responsible.”

For more information :

For any questions:

Isabelle L'Héritier - 514-226-8099,

For interviews contact:

Konwenni Jacobs, 514-707-7292

Nicolas Chevalier, 514-895-9355

Loujain Kurdi, , 514-577-6657,

Notes aux Éditeurs:

*The word “Mazaska” comes from the Lakotas Sioux and means ‘money.’  

***The three companies that are trying to build these pipelines are funded by 26 banks.  Among these banks, 5 are american, 9 are canadian, and the other twelve are based in Europe.  These projects violate the rights of Indigenous Peoples and the banks have not obtained the consent of these People’s for these projects that would cross through their territories.  

Link to the Banktrack campaign against the Equator Bank Association that has put in place the Equator Principles: http://bit.ly/2gm2I0V ; https://www.equatorbanksact.org/

Attached Photos: ©Jacques Lebleu, libre publication et partage avec mention de l'auteur.

Social Media :

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/138943340169750

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MazaskaTalks

Petition: https://petitions.signforgood.com/EquatorBanksAct/?code=MT