STOPPING THE MONEY
My partner and I started Climate Pledge Collective as a way to take action about the climate crisis and get more people involved. As we got more involved, we started asking where the money’s coming from for pipelines and projects that create high carbon emissions. We always knew that something is funding this in a big way. And we knew we had to stop it.
We started with Bank Switch, a campaign to get people knocking on their bank’s doors and saying, “This is a problem. If we don’t see substantial policy changes, we’re moving our money.” People really latched on and started asking, “What do we do?” I think people are hungry for that information.
The actions that came out of it made it worthwhile. A coalition of Toronto organizations and youth put up a huge #FOSSIL BANKS NO THANKS sign in front of TD Towers on the day of their annual shareholder meeting. Plus banner drops over a major highway and eviction notices on banks stating how much each bank funded these projects. Seeing it get bigger than we were capable of doing by ourselves was really awesome.
The elephant was definitely the funniest action. For many people, it’s a new realization that their banks are heavily invested in fossil fuel projects—that’s the elephant in the room. This huge elephant balloon inflates and deflates really fast, so it’s a great pop-up action to show how the banks don’t want to talk about what they’re doing. There was a great picture of people trying to get it in the front door of the Royal Bank of Canada. It was fun and easy to do in a public space.
CONNECTED AROUND THE WORLD
The October 29th Day of Action was a culmination of months of work and a great visual of resistance to what RBC is doing. The street outside the bank headquarters was painted with a graphic provided by the Wet’suwet’en on the front lines at Gidimt’en. It said “Respect Indigenous Sovereignty—Stop funding fossil fuels” with an image of the grizzly bear, symbolic of their clan, defending itself against the RBC lion as a symbol of that colonialist bank.
That October 29 day of action was amazing. I watched images coming in from all around the world. I was excited to see a clip of a young person from the Philippines—I’m from the Philippines—with a sign against fossil fuel finance. I felt connected all around the world.
TARGETING CORPORATIONS AND GOVERNMENTS
Money talks and has power. It could be used for something productive and sustainable. We use banking services and corporations. Whatever they’re trying to sell, we’re part of that, so we have a responsibility to say something.
It’s not just corporations, but governments too. I just started a petition about Export Development Canada, which is a credit agency owned by the federal government that has loaned millions of dollars for the Coastal Gas Link pipeline as a huge stamp of approval from Canada. This is legislated as something that’s OK. It’s a tough thing to break apart, so there’s a lot of work to do.
SOURCES OF HOPE AND HELP
The constant struggles faced by Indigenous Peoples and people of color on the front lines inspire me most because I come from the Philippines where our resources have been depleted. Pollution and severe hurricanes have been going on for years. I grew up knowing about it, but only later realized that this is the effect of years of resource extraction.
I have so much anger when I read the news. Sometimes I think, “What am I supposed to do with this?” Knowing that there are a lot of people involved is the only thing that gives me hope—that there are so many people who are concerned is the only place help might come from.
DOING THE WORK
There’s a lot to learn and it’s exciting knowing how banks and corporations work, who the stakeholders are. Realizing how much decision-making is happening around you and that you’re the recipient of it is good so you can take responsibility. Getting your hands dirty and doing the work is so important.