A group of students who received scholarships from the Canadian bank TD Securities are calling on the award sponsor to divest from the Dakota Access Pipeline, a controversial oil pipeline that critics argue will hurt the environment and contaminate water supplies used by native tribes in North Dakota.
In a letter published online Thursday, 63 current and former recipients of the TD Scholarship for Community Leadership expressed their concern about the bank's investment in the pipeline. TD Securities has invested about $365 million in the construction project, according to the nonprofit watchdog organization Food & Water Watch.
"We have been recognized by your institution for working toward social and environmental justice in our communities, but we struggle to represent an institution that is invested in a project of the highest injustice," the scholars wrote. "We cannot reconcile TD’s commitment to empower and celebrate young people for leadership in our communities and our efforts to build justice with TD’s financial support for a project that undermines the sovereignty of Indigenous communities and has proven unjust from its very beginning, as exemplified by the lack of Indigenous consultation and the violent response to protests."
The letter represents one of the latest efforts to push back against the oil pipeline.
Activists have collected the names and contact information for the 17 banks that have invested directly in the Dakota pipeline, and there's a campaign to get opponents to encourage these financial institutions to divest from the project, Yes! Magazine reported. The logic behind the effort is that "banks are more susceptible to public pressure than the oil and gas giants, which depend on bank loans and lines of credit to build their pipelines."
Pipeline critics are urging on Twitter the customers of the banks invested in the project to withdraw their money and bank with credit unions.
At Standing Rock, North Dakota, protestors have set up camp for months in an effort to disrupt construction activity and raise awareness of the Sioux Tribe's stake in the project. Protestors and police have repeatedly clashed, with law enforcement using water cannons, rubber bullets and tear gas on protestors in recent weeks.
ATTN: reached out to TD Securities for comment on the letter, but a representative was not immediately available. We will update this story when we hear back.