Stand With Standing Rock – Montreal

Got down late and they had already started marching but I caught up with them on Saint Antoine as they were turning up Saint Alexandre.

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Going to quote from the organizer’s Facebook page as I go along.

Join us in a peaceful protest in solidarity with water defenders and frontline communities at Standing Rock, who are resisting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). March with us to support the Indigenous-led movement to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline.

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Pretty good turnout.

The DAPL is a massive fracked-oil pipeline being promoted by a shady group of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies and banks. The DAPL will destroy sacred sites, worsen climate change and be laid underneath the Missouri River, potentially poisoning the freshwater supply for eight million people. Furthermore, it would engender a renewed fracking-frenzy in the Bakken shale region where the pipeline would begin.

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Lots of signs.

The DAPL is slated to cross Lakota Treaty Territory at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. For months the Standing Rock Sioux have been leading a protest against the construction of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline. They have been joined by thousands in what has been described as the biggest gathering of indigenous movements in the US in a hundred years. In creating campsites along the route of the pipeline, they have managed to interfere with and physically block the construction works and have been a torch of inspiration for indigenous and ecological movements across the world.

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Turning in at Place Ville Marie, the scent of burning sage was powerful.

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“****Are you a TD Trust, RBC or Scotia Bank customer? Fill this form out and hand it to a bank manager at your branch. Make sure to take their time with questions and info, ask to see another manager– and ideally, come with your friends! This is what we’ll be doing at the end of the march. We’ll be passing these forms, you can also print your own for yourself by downloading the pdf here:
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B9YYnyCuewmKSnRCUDZqUFVmN2M

The idea was that people would peacefully enter the banks and discuss the DAPL and the bank’s investment in that pipeline, with a teller, manager, whoever, and also mention that they will close their account if no action to stop this investment in the DAPL is taken.

Organizing the move towards the banks.

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At first I went with the Royal Bank of Canada people who would enter the bank inside Place Ville Marie. But security and police were blocking the entrance. It was decided that people could go into the bank one at a time if they could show a bank card.

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Then I headed over to the Toronto Dominion Bank branch across Rene Levesque to see what was going on. The bank had quickly locked the doors and called police leaving customers stranded on both sides of the doors.

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Then I went over to see what was going on at the Scotiabank branch but I arrived too late as the crowd had already left and all there was to see was the branch manager telling the police that everything was okay, people were peaceful and polite, etc. I later heard that the group entered the bank, the manager listened to them, and then they left.

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Back at TD the police had cleared the lobby and blocked the entrance for a few minutes before leaving with the bank closed (I assume the customers who had been locked in were also released).

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Some expressions of solidarity back at Place Ville Marie.

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This person was able to close her RBC account.

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And the crowd discussing strategy outside of TD.

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It was an excellent event.

At least 80% of the participants were between 15 and 35. They are the ones fighting for a future now, and this is their battleground – runaway capitalism churning out massive global inequality and catastrophic climate change.

I realized today how hopelessly out of touch the banks really are. Oil and gas have been solid investments for a long time but to continue to invest in short term profits to suffer horrible long term consequences no longer appears justifiable, let alone at all sane, to a younger generation that completely expects to see things such as free health care and old age pensions completely denied them. But the banks are not focused on this generation, preferring to service older clients whose portfolios and properties have done very well.

For the over 35 crowd I suggest that you talk to your financial advisor about “Ethical Investments”. While he may laugh behind your back at first, more than a few of you doing that will wipe the smirk off his face. I say this because it is the investors of oil and gas development who play a huge, albeit anonymous, role in most of the momentum of climate change. Your continued support of these industries will exponentially leave much less of a world of opportunity to your grandchildren. No one should have to tell you this twice.

In Solidarity,

Ken McLaughlin

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