Dozens of celebrities are voicing their opposition to the Coastal GasLink pipeline slated to run through unceded Wet’suwet’en territory in northern BC by demanding the Royal Bank of Canada divest its financial support from the project.

RBC is the parent company of City National Bank, sometimes referred to as the “Bank to the Stars” for its relations with Hollywood. On Wednesday, an open letter was posted on signed by celebrities such as Mark Ruffalo, Taika Waititi, Ava DuVernay and Julianne Moore.

“In bolstering RBC’s portfolio, valuation, and reserve capacity, our ‘bank to the stars’ is aiding projects that violate Indigenous rights as stated by the UN High Commissioner’s Office on Human Rights. We refuse to allow our industry’s bank of choice to be unethical at any level, to accelerate the climate crisis, or to facilitate the abuse (of) the rights of Indigenous Peoples,” reads part of the letter.

“We, the undersigned, demand that City National Bank’s parent company, Royal Bank of Canada, withdraw support from the Coastal GasLink pipeline, effective immediately.”

The letter notes RBC’s sizable stake in the pipeline — the bank tops the list of financiers for the $6.6-billion project by co-financing a $6.5-billion loan, a $40-million corporate loan and $200 million in co-financed working capital.

The callout comes after Wet’suwet’en leadership’s promise to take the fight against Coastal GasLink to the banks. In December, Wet’suwet’en hereditary Chief Woos urged National Australia Bank to drop the pipeline.

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At an online press conference launching the letter, Gidimt’en Checkpoint spokesperson Sleydo’ spoke about the “reoccupation” she and others have been undertaking for the past few years on Wet’suwet’en territory in an effort to stop pipeline construction, which has been met with militarized police raids and numerous arrests. The event was moderated by Melina Laboucan-Massimo, senior director of Indigenous Climate Action.

Sleydo’ said, Although this campaign is about the Coastal GasLink pipeline, it speaks to a much larger issue of violence — the Canadian government and corporations are undermining Indigenous sovereignty and Wet’suwet’en law by enforcing an injunction granted to Coastal GasLink.

“Most recently, in November of 2021, we experienced one of the most violent raids yet on Wet’suwet’en territory. This was just months after a letter was sent to RBC asking them to meet with us to talk about the atrocities that were happening on our territory, where we got a generic response talking about how RBC respects Indigenous people and respects Indigenous rights and believed that Coastal GasLink had done the proper consultation and due diligence to go ahead with this project,” Sleydo’ said.

“And meanwhile, within months of that response, I was surrounded in my home on the territory with Indigenous youth and other land defenders while they pointed assault rifles in my face.”

The parent company of City National Bank, sometimes referred to as the “Bank to the Stars,” is facing pressure from high-profile Hollywood stars like @MarkRuffalo over its financing of the #CoastalGasLink pipeline in northern BC

Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief Na’Moks was also present and stressed the importance of putting pressure on financial institutions like RBC, noting: “It is time to make choices and make those choices for the better of everybody.”

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In response to next steps following the letter, Ruffalo said if RBC doesn’t take its money out of Coastal GasLink, the signatories will withdraw their business from City National Bank and post the alternative financial institutions they go with on their campaign site.

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