Royal Bank of Canada Forcefully Segregates Black and Indigenous Environmental Justice Leaders From General Meeting


Courtney Naquin,

  Lindsay Meiman,




Indigenous lands of the Ĩyãħé Nakón mąkóce (Stoney), Očhéthi Šakówiŋ, Niitsítpiis-stahkoii, ᖹᐟᒧᐧᐨᑯᐧ ᓴᐦᖾᐟ (Blackfoot / Niitsítapi ᖹᐟᒧᐧᒣᑯ), Michif Piyii (Métis), and Cree Peoples, Treaty 6 territory (so-called Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada)  - Happening right now, the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) is refusing entry to Indigenous leaders from Canada First Nations and Black community leaders from the Gulf Coast in the US to its general meeting. RBC officials are segregating Black and Indigenous activists from the main meeting by forcing them into a secondary room where they are unable to speak to the CEO of RBC directly. Indigenous and Black activists and allies intended to join the general meeting today to tell RBC, a major financier of many oil and gas projects across North America, to stop investing in destructive and polluting industries that are disproportionately impacting Black and Indigenous communities.

According to a press release from Stand.Earth, RBC is threatening arrest and physical violence towards Indigenous delegation – who all have received necessary proxies – and shut out Wet’suwet’en Hereditary leadership. RBC is the primary financier of the Coastal GasLink pipeline, which lacks consent from Hereditary Chiefs, the rightful titleholders of the land.

Attempts by shareholders to hold RBC accountable and to seek change has resulted in the bank recommending the rejection of shareholder proposals around climate targets and Indigenous sovereignty. RBC is currently under investigation by the Competition Bureau of Canada for allegedly misleading consumers with climate-related advertising while continuing to increase financing for coal, oil and gas.

The Gulf Coast is one of the most systemically abused and industrialized regions in the United States. RBC is a financier of 7 LNG, or methane gas, export terminals in Texas and Louisiana, in addition to over a dozen of other oil and gas projects in the region. Industrialization of the Gulf Coast has resulted in chronic toxic air and water pollution, severe land loss, impacts on wildlife populations, increased severity and damage from hurricanes in the region, and constant risks to public health safety. Communities across the Gulf have been uniting to say that “enough is enough,” and that their lives, safety, environment, and futures can no longer be treated like collateral damage to industry and big banks that fund them like RBC.

Black and Indigenous communities from the Gulf Coast have been leading the environmental justice movement calling for an end to polluting industry “sacrifice zones' for generations. Roishetta Ozane, a Gulf Coast environmental justice advocate from Southwest Louisiana, is currently present at the RBC meeting, where she said she was discriminated against and told that she was not allowed entry for being Black, along with Indigenous leaders. Fellow community members and partner organizations are standing in solidarity with Roishetta and the Wet’suwet’en Elders and leaders and calling out RBC for their actions.

Roishetta Ozane, founder of the Vessel Project of Louisiana, issued the following statement:

“It was obvious today that RBC buys into racism. As a black woman I was denied entry into the main room of RBC AGM where the CEO, board members and other shareholders and proxies were seated and told that I could only enter the second room. Upon looking into the main room I noticed that only white people were allowed in this room - and the only Black person and Indigenous delegation were sent to an empty “overflow” room. I traveled thousands of miles to Canada from the Gulf South, where we are no stranger to racism and segregation. I see that RBC doesn’t even care to hide behind masks as the KKK once did, they are bold enough to show their faces. Environmental racism IS DECADES OF UNFAIR AND UNJUST EXPOSURE OF ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDOUS WASTE, RESOURCE EXTRACTION, AND LAND USE IN AND AROUND LOW INCOME, BLACK, BROWN, INDIGENOUS, AND PEOPLE OF COLOR COMMUNITIES.

As a Black woman, I'm passionate about environmental justice because I recognize the health disparities that disproportionately affect communities of color. I believe everyone deserves to live in safe, healthy, and equitable environments, but many communities of color are not afforded the same access to clean air, land, and water. RBC only cares about money as they continue to fund fossil fuel projects along the Gulf Coast located in predominantly BIPOC communities, and then suppress our voices when we speak out.”

Chief Na’Moks, Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief, said:

 “CEO Dave McKay is personally responsible for the abuse Indigenous peoples received from RBC. This shows how Canada’s biggest bank has no interest in reconciliation or our human rights by implementing a two-tier rights system in separating Indigenous representatives from the main room. RBC is funding corporate colonialism, and displacing Indigenous peoples from our lands at gunpoint for fracked gas pipelines we cannot afford now or in the future. When BC and Canada claim we are committing ‘civil disobedience,’ the truth is we are being Civilly Obedient to our Traditional laws of protecting clean waters, lands and air. As much as RBC, Canada, and British Columbia try to extinguish our rights and title, we will remain the authority on our land.”

Jessi Parfait, Campaign Representative for Sierra Club’s Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign and member of the United Houma Nation, said:

“Despite RBC boasting they were the first Canadian bank to sign on to the Equator Principles, an international framework for managing social and environmental risk, their actions continue to contradict any commitments to equality that they claim to be striving towards. Here on the coast, Black and Indigenous communities are STILL treated as less than, we are the most impacted by storms yet often the last to receive aid, and facilities, largely funded by international banks, profit from poisoning our communities. Yet RBC is refusing to hear from frontline community members impacted by the facilities funded by their money, segregating them into a separate room. It is clear RBC is not interested in upholding the principles they profess to abide by, it is even clearer that it’s time for Canadians to divest.”

Maya Menezes, Senior Climate Finance Organizer,, said:

“RBC is putting its proverbial head in the sand and doubling down on fossil fuel expansion, violating Indigenous sovereignty, and enabling climate chaos like fires and floods. If the latest IPCC report is humanity’s survival guide, RBC’s greenwashing is a destruction guide. It’s time for RBC to divest from Coastal GasLink and fossil fuels, and reinvest in climate-safe solutions.”

Ruth Breech, Senior Campaigner with Rainforest Action Network, said:

“RBC’s annual meeting of common Shareholders is a critical place for Wet’suwet’en Indigenous leaders and Gulf South community leaders to directly engage with the CEO, Board of Directors and prominent shareholders. RBC did not want this access to happen, they shut out these important voices-people who are directly affected by the fossil fuel projects they finance. Their racist actions at this meeting align with their dealbooks-they don’t care about Indigenous consent, the safety of Black communities, human rights or climate impacts. They care about making money.”

James Hiatt, founder of For a Better Bayou in Southwest Louisiana, said:

“This is another sad example of companies placing profit over people by shutting out the communities and voices most impacted by dangerous and deadly investment decisions. Our shared and prosperous future depends on listening to the frontlines, hearing all voices, and acting on their input. RBC and others need to invest in the future and not the past.”

Cindy Robertson, founder of the micah 6:8 mission in Southwest Louisiana, said:

“RBC’s overt racism in their action of denying entry to the Black and Indigenous representatives of those of us suffering under the burden of environmental injustice is horrific! Roishetta Ozane has been tireless in working for the WHOLE community of Southwest Louisiana, and when you exclude her you exclude all of us - black, white, indigenous, Creole, EVERYONE. The white power structure and colonial approach of RBC is unacceptable to me and all here in Southwest Louisiana. We support you, Roishetta. Shame on you, RBC!”




About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit