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Dozens of celebrities sign petition calling on RBC to stop financing Coastal GasLink pipeline in B.C.

Dozens of celebrities have signed a petition calling on the Royal Bank of Canada to stop financing the Coastal GasLink pipeline project in northern B.C.

The campaign, "No More Dirty Banks," asks for the bank to withdraw its financial support of the pipeline immediately. It appears to have been signed by dozens of artists like Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson and Amy Schumer. Celebrities have signed the petition because RBC is parent company to City National Bank, known as the "bank of the stars."

In a video posted to the campaign's website, actor and producer Mark Ruffalo, spoke against the project.

"Right now major banks like the Royal Bank of Canada are financing a fracked gas pipeline, bulldozing through the land of the Wet'suwet'en nation in northern British Columbia, Canada," he said in the video.

"The Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs never consented to this pipeline being construction through their territories, which would risk the sacred headwaters of Wedzin Kwa River."

The Coastal GasLink pipeline has been a focal point of protests by Indigenous land defenders and those aligned with hereditary chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation.

The pipeline is being constructed on the nation's traditional territory and its owner has agreements with elected Indigenous governments along the route, including the Wet’suwet’en elected chief and council.

"At a time when we desperately as Canadians want to see reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, that's got to be something that everyone acknowledges,” said Stewart Muir, executive director of Resource Works Society, an organization that advocates for industry.

But many Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs, who claim jurisdiction over the vast swath of traditional territory on the pipeline route, oppose the project and vow to never sign on.

"When you talk about money, it doesn't have a conscience. Humans do. And that's what we're calling upon,” said Hereditary Chief Na’moks.

The conflict prompted nationwide blockades in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en protesters in February 2020.

Recently, the Coastal GasLink worksite was targeted in what police described as a violent attack. Mounties said about 20 people, with some carrying axes, attacked security guards and smashed vehicle windows one night in February. Millions of dollars in damage was reported in the incident. 

The pipeline would transport natural gas from Dawson Creek in northeastern B.C. to a processing facility in Kitimat.

Ruffalo said recent reports of violence towards land defenders protesting in the area have made action "even more urgent." 

"For the last three years and as recently as last November, the RCMP violently arrested and detained non-violent Indigenous land defenders and journalists," he said.

Ruffalo said RBC is supporting the pipeline project with hundreds of millions of dollars and called it the "linchpin" in a large loan backed by more than two dozen banks.

"Even though RBC has made commitments to Indigenous human rights, they continue to fund Coastal GasLink's violence against the Wet'suwet'en people," he said.

TC Energy, which owns Coastal GasLink, said in a statement it has "unprecedented support from all 20 elected Indigenous communities along our project corridor." It also pointed to options deals that were signed earlier this month with Indigenous communities along the pipeline corridor. 

"Since the beginning of the project, Coastal GasLink has sought to engage and consult with the Wet’suwet’en Houses through the Office of the Wet’suwet’en and the elected leadership," the statement said. "We want to listen and seek meaningful ways to address interests and concerns including ensuring the pipeline is built under the Morice River using the safest technology available." 

CTV News Vancouver also reached out to RBC with questions about how it evaluates the resource projects it finances and any steps it takes to make sure the rights of Indigenous peoples are respected. The bank declined to make anyone available for comment.

"Our sacred headwaters, the Wedzin Kwa river, is the lifeline for our people. By financing Coastal GasLink, CNB's parent company RBC is putting us profoundly at risk," said Gidimt’en Checkpoint spokesperson Sleydo’, Molly Wickham, in a news release about the petition.

"The gas pipeline violates our hereditary title, and has led to years of RCMP violence and harassment of peaceful Indigenous land defenders, and the forced removal of Wet’suwet’en peoples from our territory. We’ve been crystal clear: RBC must divest from this toxic project, which threatens Wet’suwet’en land, air and water, and steamrolls Indigenous rights."

Organizers of the campaign hosted a news conference Wednesday and plan to take action in Los Angeles Friday. Events are also planned across North America on April 7, when RBC is hosting its annual shareholder meeting. Top Stories

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