Avengers star Mark Ruffalo says concerns about how his money is used are driving his public campaign calling on the Royal Bank of Canada to stop funding the Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern B.C.
The American actor is one of more than 65 Hollywood celebrities and Indigenous climate activists who’ve signed a petition demanding that RBC and its subsidiary City National Bank (CNB) defund the natural gas pipeline.
In an interview with Gloria Macarenko, host of CBC’s On The Coast, Ruffalo said he banks with CNB, and tried to take action shortly after learning about the financial connection a few months ago.
“I said, hey guys, I don’t know if you know this, but most of your clients are fighting for climate change action and Indigenous rights, and you have our money funding the tar sands and the Coastal GasLink pipeline,” he said.
“I don’t want my money funding this, I know that people in Hollywood who’ve signed on to this letter don’t want their money funding this.”
The petition, titled “No More Dirty Banks,” describes CNB as the “bank to the stars,” and has been signed by A-listers including Robert Downey, Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Jane Fonda, Leonardo DiCaprio and Marisa Tomei.
It says RBC and CNB are supporting “violating Indigenous rights and fuelling climate chaos” by financing the project.
“As much as they speak about being champions for climate change and being champions of Indigenous rights and Indigenous people, everything that I’ve seen is absolutely contrary to those two claims,” Ruffalo said.
RBC spokesperson Rafael Ruffolo wrote in an email that the bank had no comment on the campaign.
Celebrity support ‘means the world to us’
Ruffalo was interviewed alongside two key Wet’suwet’en Nation leaders fighting against the pipeline through their traditional territory — Sleydo’ (Molly Wickham) and Hereditary Wet’suwet’en Chief Na’Moks.
Both said they were grateful that so many people with big names and influence were lining up to support their protest against the pipeline.
“It absolutely means the world to us,” Na’Moks said.
The hotly contested pipeline, which is planned to extend from northeast B.C. to Kitimat on the province’s North Coast, is being built through the territory of the Wet’suwet’en Nation.
Coastal GasLink has said the project is fully authorized and permitted by government, and has the support of all 20 First Nation band councils, including five of the six band councils in the Wet’suwet’en Nation.
However, Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have opposed the project, saying band councils do not have authority over land beyond reserve boundaries.
On Friday night, Coastal GasLink sent CBC an unsolicited statement outlining the support the project has had from Indigenous groups including recent news that 16 First Nations intend to purchase equity in the pipeline.
“Coastal GasLink recognizes that Indigenous reconciliation and addressing climate change are essential to creating a better, more sustainable world,” the company said.
“We would encourage everyone interested to take the time to understand all the facts and the important role Indigenous communities have in developing and building the project.”