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Indigenous Women Leaders Warn Global Financial Companies to Stop Support for Tar Sands Oil

This week, over 40 Indigenous women from communities impacted by tar sands sent an open letter to 70 major banks, insurers, and asset managers, calling on them to respect Indigenous rights and stop providing financial support for the industry destroying their homelands.

In a letter addressed to the CEOs of these global financial institutions, the women wrote: “With fossil fuel corporations plowing ahead with pipeline construction in the midst of a global pandemic and massive financial meltdown, we urge your institutions to immediately decline any additional support for TC Energy’s Keystone XL pipeline, Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline, and the Canadian government’s Trans Mountain pipeline — and to cut ties with all tar sands projects and companies.”

Image by Dulcey Lima

The letter outlines the many risks and impacts that the fossil fuel industry, specifically tar sands, has caused in their communities. Construction for these pipeline expansion projects puts rural Indigenous communities at a higher risk for COVID exposure and sexual violence. The tar sands industry has devastated the northern communities through mining, extraction and refining.

There is a growing movement of financial institutions exiting the tar sands sector. To date, nineteen major banks have policies limiting tar sands financing, and nine insurers have restricted insurance for the sector, including two U.S. companies. Norway’s Norges Bank – the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund – divested from four of the largest Canadian tar sands companies, citing their “unacceptable” level of greenhouse gas emissions.

This spring, the tar sands industry hit an all time low, producing barrels of oil at a loss. The signatories call on the finance industry to accelerate a just transition toward renewable, regenerative energy and away from this destructive fossil fuel for the sake of IndigenousNations, women, communities, and workers that depend on the industry for their livelihoods.

The original signatories for the letter include: Tara Houska (Couchiching First Nation), Giniw Collective; Rebecca Adamson (Cherokee), Founder, First Nations and First Peoples Worldwide; Joye Braun (Cheyenne River Sioux), Indigenous Environmental Network; Freda Huson (Unist'ot'en), Unist'ot'en Healing Centre; Winona LaDuke (White Earth Nation), Honor the Earth; Kanahus Manuel (Secwepemc), Tiny House Warriors; Eriel Tchekwie Deranger (Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation), Indigenous Climate Action.

Tara Houska, Anishinaabe Land Defender and founder of Giniw Collective, living in a resistance camp next to the proposed Line 3 pipeline route:

“The land cries out for empathy, the people cry out for justice and both are met with silence. The tar sands industry is a tribute to human egoism and short-sighted benefit as the arboreal forest, the water, a multitude of ecosystems, and Black and Indigenous communities are sacrificed on the pyre of profiteering. As I see man camps appearing all over northern Minnesota to build Enbridge’s Line 3 tar sands pipeline, I call on the financiers to end their relationships with those who harm our people and land without a second thought. I call for action, not more empty words and promises."

The letter was released in partnership with Giniw Collective, Rainforest Action Network, and Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN). This letter and the signatories are supported by 160 Indigenous rights, environmental, and social justice organizations. Read more of the story at Women's Earth & Climate Action Network, International.

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