Man arrested after chaining himself to door at Orillia’s RBC
A man who goes by Xavier Bergeron, an alias used to protect his identity, was protesting RBC’s involvement with the fossil fuel industry on Monday afternoon at the bank’s branch in west Orillia. |
Orillia OPP officers were called to the RBC Royal Bank in west Orillia on Monday afternoon after a Severn Township man chained himself to the entrance of the bank as part of a protest.
A man who goes by Xavier Bergeron, an alias used to protect his identity, says he, accompanied by a photographer and videographer, was protesting RBC Royal Bank’s involvement with the fossil fuel industry.
“We went inside the bank, we were asked to leave, but I told the manager I refuse. She threatened us to call the police and I told her to go ahead, we will be outside waiting,” Bergeron said.
Bergeron, 54, says the protest was peaceful and the protesters were following all COVID protocols.
“While waiting for the police, I chained myself to the front door to make a point and resist arrest, as well as showing how I feel about the financial institution’s financing of ecological breakdowns,” he said.
Officers were able to cut the chain and make the arrest. The other protesters were asked to leave bank property or face charges; they dispersed.
“After about 30 minutes, I struck a deal with the police that I would not return to the bank, so they issued a ticket for trespassing property without any criminal charges,” he said.
Bergeron says it was worth it for him to take a stance against RBC.
“We all know that fossil fuel is bad, and the science is undeniable now. Levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are getting dangerously close to the tipping point where we will no longer be able to grow crops,” he said.
“It’s going to trigger sea level rises which will cause a billion people to be on the move,” he said.
According to a 2021 report called Banking on Climate Chaos, authored by the Rainforest Action Network, BankTrack, Indigenous Environmental Network, Oil Change International, reclaim Finance, and Sierra Club, RBC is the highest funder of the fossil fuel industry of all the Canadian banks.
The report indicates RBC has invested $160 billion in ‘fossil financing’ since 2016 and the Paris Climate Agreement, which has decreased between 2016 and 2020. Those investment dollars put RBC at fifth in the world on a list of banks financing fossil fuels.
RBC has responded to questions on its fossil financing in the past, and has publicly stated it is committed to net-zero emissions in lending by 2050 and $500 billion in “sustainable finance” by 2025.
RBC is working with TransCanada Corp. to sell stakes in the Coastal GasLink Pipeline project, which has been met with mass protesting as it runs through Wet’suwet’en territory.
Bergeron, a coordinator for Extinction Rebellion GTA, a group of protesters he says is committed to protecting the planet, is not done protesting. The group is planning on blocking the Gardner Express Way in Toronto on Jan. 18 at the Spadina off-ramp.
Officials from Orillia’s RBC and Orillia’s OPP detachment were unable to provide comment in time for the publication of this article.
— With files from Erika Engel
Read the article here