Fossil Fools Day and RBC's 2024 AGM

Published Wednesday, April 17, 2024

It was a dreary, rainy Thursday in Etobicoke last week, but hundreds of people still marched up to the Toronto Congress Centre where shareholders were gathered for RBC’s Annual General Meeting (AGM). The crowd outside chanted “Wet’suwet’en solidarity!” and carried signs calling out the bank for acting like a climate criminal.
Four photos from the rally outside RBC’s AGM. A crowd of people with umbrellas, and inflatable bust of CEO Dave McKay that says RBC is burning our future, smiling people holding a sign that says RBC: Climate Villain of the year, and people with umbrellas and signs in a long line on the sidewalk.

Outside the AGM on Thursday, April 11 (Photos: Joshua Best)

We also carried with us the support and power of the 42 Fossil Fools Day actions held at RBC branches just days before – dozens of communities who came together to take a stand against the bank’s corporate colonialism and greenwashing.
Six photos of Fossil Fools Day actions show people gathered outside of RBC branches with signs and banners, saying RBC: Racist Bank of Complicity and Canada’s #1 Fossil Bank, Divest Now!

Just a few of the 42 Fossil Fools Day actions on Saturday, April 6!
Clockwise from top left: Kingston (Photo: Nancy Nicol), Vancouver (Photo: Nayeli Jimenez), Ottawa (Photo: Chantal Pelletier), Barrie (Photo: Patricia Smith), Regina (Photo: Blaire Kydd), Whitby (Photo: Trevor Cluthé)

Inside the AGM, Indigenous and Black Land Defenders and their allies spoke powerfully about RBC’s violations of human and Indigenous rights and reckless investments in fossil fuels.

They were met with tight speaking limits, interruptions, and general disrespect from RBC executives — all part of a wildly transparent effort from RBC to limit criticisms against their climate and human rights record. You can read more about the Land Defenders’ experience inside the AGM here.

Despite RBC’s attempts to quell dissent inside the AGM, the Land Defenders’ message was backed up by the hundreds and thousands who gathered outside the conference centre and outside RBC branches in the days before; and by thousands more who took up the call online.

All together, here’s a snapshot of what we pulled off in the days leading up to the AGM to ramp up the pressure on RBC:
  • We sent 2,368 emails to RBC CEO Dave McKay, calling on him to respect Indigenous rights and dump his dirty investments;
  • We targeted RBC with hundreds of tweets using the hashtags #PrankTheBanks and #FossilFoolsDay, flooding their social media feeds with our movement’s demands;
  • And over a thousand people participated in Fossil Fools Day, showing up to their local RBC branch as part of a coordinated Day of Action in 42 cities and towns, calling on RBC to stop financing fossil fuels and to respect Indigenous sovereignty. Your actions made the national news and definitely caught RBC’s attention!
A crowd gathered outside an RBC branch with a banner saying We stand with Wet’suwet’en.

Another Fossil Fools Day action in Hamilton (Photo: Becky Katz)
Our efforts paid off. National and local media coverage of RBC’s AGM emphasized the pressure from Land Defenders and climate activists. From local outlets reporting on Fossil Fools Day actions to major business newspapers like Bloomberg and the Globe & Mail, every story about RBC’s AGM highlighted concerns about Indigenous rights violations and fossil fuel financing. Our movement dominated the AGM.

What’s more, through sustained pressure and negotiations in the lead-up to the AGM, our allies secured key commitments from RBC on both climate and Indigenous rights: one, to include the right to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent in its human rights statement; and two, to disclose its clean energy financing ratio in climate reports.

Last Thursday’s AGM left RBC on the back foot, scrambling to resuscitate their public image and to win back their shareholders’ trust. We were able to make that happen by showing out in force, in solidarity with Land Defenders and our movement allies, online and in person from coast to coast. And we'll keep fighting until fossil fuel companies and their financial backers are finally held to account.