On 17 December, to coincide with National Australia Bank’s (NAB) AGM, actions took place in Melbourne and Adelaide, as well as a banner drop in Brisbane, to call out the big bank’s CA$117.5 million investment in a Canadian fracked gas pipeline (TC Energy’s Coastal Gaslink) that is being fiercely resisted by Wet’suwet’en peoples.
NAB heard from Hereditary Chief Woos and his daughter Sleydo’ Molly Wickham of the Wet’suwet’en nation about about the human rights abuses of First Nations peoples suffering at the hands of NAB-backed Coastal Gaslink pipeline. A transcript of questions is included below and audio recordings available here.
The NAB chair Phillip Chronicon did not respond directly to the concerns raised by Hereditary Chief Woos and Sleydo’ Molly Wickham, instead referring to NAB’s environmental and social risk assessment process and claiming this was a “historical” issue due to NAB’s intention to reduce lending to gas projects over time.
Kelly Albion, Campaigns Director at 350.org Australia said “NAB’s involvement in this pipeline shows just how little their climate and human rights commitments mean – the project would emit 610 million tonnes of CO2 over its lifetime, more than Australia’s total annual emissions.
“The Hereditary Chiefs have re-asserted their right to jurisdiction over their own lands, their right to determine access and prevent trespass under Wet’suwet’en law, and the right to Free Prior and Informed Consent, however Coastal Gaslink are violently pushing through with the force of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
“NAB must cut ties with Coastal Gaslink and rule out any further financing of this project.”
Amelia Telford, Bundjalung woman and National Director at Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network said “All around the world, First Nations communities are rising up against the destruction of our lands and waters that we have looked after for thousands of generations. Here in Australia, Aboriginal communities are fighting against fracking companies, who just like TC Energy, refuse to listen to Traditional Owners.
“We stand in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en peoples defending their territory from fracking pipelines, and demand NAB to respect First Nations people and defund Coastal Gaslink today.”
Actions were held in Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide. Access photos of the actions here.
Kelly and Amelia are available for comment on 0422 636 775
Chief Woos’ question:
As shareholders of National Australia Bank, you should know that your company is not upholding its own commitments to respect Indigenous and human rights.
Your bank purports that your financing follows the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of indigenous peoples, yet you loaned $117.5 million canadian dollars to Coastal GasLink, a pipeline that has never received free, prior or informed consent from the title owners of the land the pipeline wants to cross.
The Supreme Court of Canada recognized in the 1997 Delgamuukw landmark case, that Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs — that’s myself and six others — have never ceased to hold rights over Wet’suwet’en land. Coastal GasLink is illegally constructing on our land, and now my people are being forcefully, violently evicted by police forces from our own territory.
How do you reconcile your company’s supposed commitments to UNDRIP while financing a project that is illegal and committing human rights violations and perpetuating the oppression of Indigenous people for the purpose of colonial extractivism?
Sleydo’ Molly Wickham’s question:
Hi this Sleydo’, I’m the spokesperson for Gidimt’en checkpoint on Wet’suwet’en territory. I was violently arrested at gunpoint on Nov 19 on my own territory and removed from my territory by the RCMP under supreme court injunction by Coastal Gaslink project that is trespassing on our territory.
I was imprisoned for 5 days and at Coastal Gaslink’s request, was given conditions of my release not to enter my own territory, so I’m restricted from accessing my own territory. I was removed violently, at gun point, from my territory, with RCMP attack dogs and sniper rifles trained on me.
Is this the kind of reputation that your bank is willing to proceed with and willing to take this kind of direct action against Indigenous people on their own land through the Coastal Gaslink Project?
Funding this project is contributing to the genocide of our people, to the genocide of our waters, and are you willing to take accountability for that in the face of your commitment to UNDRIP and your commitment to human rights as a national bank?