IEN Statement Re: UT & RBC Partnership

12 July 2022

As members of the IEN Leadership, we recognize our responsibilities to work in collaboration and good relation as we align with the principles of the Dish With One Spoon Treaty Agreement. As such, we would like to remind our colleagues of the University of Toronto’s stated commitment to a “climate-positive environment,” and OISE’s express commitment to “remember and enact the tenets of the Dish with One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant and help to embed responsibility for climate justice and climate action into our individual and collective work at OISE.”

On June 8th 2022, University of Toronto announced a partnership with the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), in the form of RBC Scholarships for Diversity and Innovation in Technology.

The celebratory tone and willful ignorance of this announcement are unfathomable to us and we absolutely denounce this alliance between the U of T and the largest funder of fossil fuels in Canada. This partnership is a blatant betrayal of the university’s October 2021 announcement of a commitment to “divest from all direct investments in fossil fuel companies within the next 12 months, and divest from indirect investments, typically held through pooled and commingled investment vehicles, by no later than 2030, and sooner if possible.”

RBC funds both the TC Energy Coastal Gaslink and Enbridge Line 3 pipeline projects, neither of which have free, prior and informed consent to proceed from the Indigenous peoples within whose territories the projects are located. Worldwide, RBC is the world’s fifth largest funder of fossil fuel projects and the leading funder of tar sands oil. Stunningly, RBC has increased this funding in recent years, providing more than 200 billion dollars in fossil fuel financing since the Paris Climate Agreement. How perverse of vice-president research and innovation, and strategic initiatives (Leah Cowen) to describe RBC as “an early champion of the innovation ecosystem at the University of Toronto”!

We note the neoliberal mobilization of “diversity,” and token financial support for “women and other equity-deserving groups, including Black and Indigenous students” while RBC is killing us all through financing the destruction of the planet. RBC is directly complicit in the genocidal, colonial invasion of Indigenous territories in the interests of corporate capital. RBC and the fossil fuel companies it finances are responsible for daily acts of violence towards Indigenous land and peoples, for invasive man camps that especially put Indigenous women in danger, for terrorizing and criminalizing land defendersEspecially as Black, Indigenous, and Black-Indigenous people and women we are ashamed of U of T for pursuing this “renewed partnership.” This is NOT what decolonizing a university looks like.


Dr. Jennifer Brant, IEN Faculty Co-Chair; Assistant Professor, Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning, OISE, University of Toronto

Dr. rosalind hampton, IEN Faculty Co-Chair; Assistant Professor of Black Studies, Department of Social Justice Education, OISE, University of Toronto

Dr. Jeffrey Ansloos, Previous IEN Faculty Co-Chair; Assistant Professor and Canada Research Chair, Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development, OISE, University of Toronto


Faculty Co-Signatories:

Dr. Chandni Desai, New College, University of Toronto

Dr. Kristen Bos, Historical Studies and Women and Gender Studies Institute, University of Toronto

Dr. Fikile Nxumalo, Dept. of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning, University of Toronto

Dr. Whitneé Garrett-Walker, Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education, University of Toronto

Dr. Jeff Bale, Associate Professor, Language and Literacies Education, CTL/OISE; Vice-President, University and External Affairs, UTFA

Dr. Rinaldo Walcott, Professor, Women and Gender Studies Institute, University of Toronto

Dr. Rubén Gaztambide-Fernández, Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning, OISE, University of Toronto

Dr. Stephanie J. Waterman, Department of Leadership, Higher & Adult Education, University of Toronto

Dr. Uahikea Maile, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Toronto 

Dr. Kathy Bickmore, Professor of Curriculum & Pedagogy and Comparative International & Development Education, University of Toronto 

Dr. Beverly Bain, Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Department of Historical Studies, University of Toronto

Dr. Eve Tuck, Associate Professor of Critical Race and Indigenous Studies, Dept. of Social Justice Education, OISE, University of Toronto