Mrs. Nixon, please help us stop the tar sands

UPDATE: action video here.

During rush-hour commute this morning, two Indigenous Canadian women – Eriel Tchekwie Deranger, and Heather Milton-Lightening – scaled flagpoles in front of the main entrance of Royal Bank of Canada’s (RBC’s) headquarters in Toronto, dropping a banner reading “Please Help Us Mrs.” – appealing to the bank to pull its massive investments in Alberta tar sands projects. Supported by RAN, the Ruckus Society, and their Indigenous People’s Power Project, they were joined by dozens of Toronto RAN activists, swarming entrances to ensure every RBC employee heard our appeal Mrs. Janet Nixon, the wife of RBC CEO Gordon Nixon, to lend her strong and influential voice to those fighting to protect Canada’s clean water and respect Indigenous rights by pushing RBC to stop bankrolling the tar sands. They handed out flyers, held banners, and even circled the building on bikes with “Please Help Us Mrs.” flags.

RBC is the ATM of the Tar Sands.

They are a leading investor in what has been called the dirtiest project on Earth and is one of the greatest social and ecological injustices of our time. Unless they’re stopped by grassroots pressure, oil companies will transform a boreal forest the size of Florida into an industrial sacrifice zone – complete with lakes full of toxic waste that are so big that you can see them from outer space. Tar sands projects poison First Nations Communities, pollute precious water resources, kill wildlife, and are the single biggest contributor to global warming from Canada.


At the same time as the banner was being unfurled, thousands of RAN supporters and allies began emailing a video to key RBC executives – in which RAN’s Michael Brune appeals to Mrs. Nixon to help RBC offer leadership by withdrawing its funding for the tar sands. (If you haven’t participated in this online action yet, it’s not too late! Click here to view the video and email it to RBC executives.)

You can also view the video on YouTube (be sure to go to and take action when you’re done watching):

Check out ongoing news coverage that is just starting, from Bloomberg, CBC, Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, Canadian Press, Daily KosFinancial Post,, Brandon Sun, Stockhouse, KBS Radio, New Brunswick Business Journal, AM 1150, Canadian Business, Vancouver Sun, and much more.

See lots of photos of the action here.

The banner was up for over two hours, and a large crowd of people gathered to watch. Several RBC executives also joined us, watching in embarrassment. In the end, the police let the two climbers go without making any arrests; the climbers were given citations.

This action is also the culmination of a month-long guerrilla wheatpasting campaign by RAN Toronto, who have covered the city with hundreds of posters bearing the message “Please Help Us Mrs. Nixon” – leaving people in Toronto wondering what these posters are all about. (But in case Janet Nixon herself was unsure who she was being asked to help, we had a letter from RAN delivered to her home address yesterday.)

While Janet Nixon is the wife of RBC’s CEO, we are appealing her today because she is also a committed environmentalist, and has been instrumental in shaping RBC’s Blue Water Project. But while pledging $50 million to help fight water pollution over the next ten years, RBC has loaned $2.3 billion to tar sands companies in the last two years alone.

We stand at a cross roads. Does RBC want to help lead our country by investing in clean renewable energy? Or continue to scrape the bottom of the barrel of dirty oil at a cost far too high? Tar sands oil expansion is devastating the regional environment, contaminating Canada’s precious water supply, endangering wildlife, threatening First Nations’ health and preventing Canada from meeting its climate commitments. Indigenous First Nations communities downstream have experienced polluted water, water reductions in rivers and aquifers, increased cancer, and declines in wildlife population that threaten to destroy their traditional ways of life.


RBC has a critical role to play in investing in Canada’s clean energy future. RBC must require clients to provide evidence of free, prior and informed consent from First Nations on projects affecting their communities, as the first step of a phase-out of financing and advisory services to all tar sands projects which have adverse impacts on the environment. The bank must develop an action plan to reduce ‘financed emissions’ related to all lending activities that impact the climate.


We know that Mrs. Nixon cares deeply about clean water, and so we’re appealing directly to her to help us push RBC to make a meaningful commitment to clean water, by ending its financing of the tar sands – rather than giving fistfuls of cash to Big Oil’s dirtiest project ever, while donating its spare change to clean water projects.

Mrs. Nixon, will you help us? (And Mr. Nixon: if you want to help us stop the tar sands too, there’s no need to wait for your wife to take the lead.)

25 Responses to “Mrs. Nixon, please help us stop the tar sands”

  1. 1 BRast Jul 28th, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    Awesome Action y’all!! Thank you!

    U.S. citizen check out this youtube video and give a call to the state department about Tar Sands coming into the U.S. :

  2. 2 David and Louise Ransom Jul 28th, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    Mrs. Nixon. please help eliminate tar sands – take the lead if necessary!—dave and louise ransom, USA

  3. 3 LalithF Jul 28th, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    For me another useless protest… I support RBC for investing in the tar sands. Stand strong RBC… If you dont invest another bank will and the money will leave Canada. Activist morons….. and Mr.Nixon if your wife is giving you grief… get a new one. Keep on course and ignore this irratation.

  4. 4 Morgan Jul 28th, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    “get a new one”?!? Nice, great advice. That’s going to win you a lot of supporters.

  5. 5 Ludwig Jul 28th, 2009 at 4:28 pm


    Your reasoning is so idiotic. If you follow it to the extreme, to the absurd, Canadian women should also prostitute themselves to the citizens of other nations, so that money comes to Canada. In fact, prostitution is about losing honor, which is not so bad as destroying the environment. Environmental destruction cannot be repaired. Honor, well, it’s just a moral category. You think environment and markets don’t go together? Ok, then, privatize the land these tar companies destroy, make the tar companies have to pay market prices for the destruction of real estate and the banks liable for it too…You will see how the markets immediately arbitrage that. The problem is that these lands belong to the crown, which means nobody.

  6. 6 Anita Jul 28th, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    Congrats on an amazing and successful action!

  7. 7 Emma Goldman Jul 28th, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    Hey LalithF, i’m going to guess you are single and probably don’t do well on the dating sites therefore troll blogs like it’s getting hot in here to vent your frustration.

  8. 8 Brent Shipley Jul 28th, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    Great work your doing in Toronto, keep up the pressure I’m it will come to Fruition

  9. 9 Phillip Martin, P.Eng., MSc. Jul 28th, 2009 at 11:44 pm

    It is regrettable that so-called intelligent people of “integrity” would use fictitious information to make their case.
    The NAZIS were experts in this in 1936.
    The facts are that the oilsands (NOT TARSANDS) have been producing high quality synthetic crude oil for 42 years and you have just discovered that?
    Oilsands produces only 2% of Canada’s GWG’s and only 0.4% of North Americas GWG’s as measured by the Canadian and US Governments.
    The USA’s coal industry is 100 times dirtier than oilsands but you fail to mention that. Its a fact.
    1.3 million barrels per day are being increased to 2 million per day at end of 2010, then 3 million per day by 2020.
    200,000 people are employed directly and indirectly by the oilsands industry..
    Alberta is the largest supplier of energy to the USA and will remain so. Canada has enough energy for 150 years in the oilsands.

  10. 10 Randall Jul 29th, 2009 at 10:21 am

    We need those tar sands… you want to import from terrorists? but I suppose none of you activists drive or take the bus , right.

  11. 11 dan kellar Aug 5th, 2009 at 1:11 am

    Dear, Herr Phillip Martin, P.Eng., MSc.
    your GHG and coal numbers are bogus, and your argument inadequate. there is plenty enough info about the tar sands on the RAN site, on the GP site and on (as well as the IEN and other sites) so i will not repeat them here. leave your letters at the door, they are not appreciated when used to try to prop up false numbers.

    lets have a trade. you go live in fort chip and die of cancer and give all your money to the people there who are dying because of the tar sands. or how about you take a swim in a tailings pond, those things will have to be around forever, or until the walls breach and it spills into the river system en masse (and don’t say it will never happen – remember the levies in NO)

    and randall, i think it is safe to say that you are an idiot. if you import oil from iraq, you will be importing it from your own heartless companies, so yes, i suppose it would be terrorists…shit, maybe you know exactly what you are talking about…

  1. 1 The Ruckus Society » Mrs. Nixon, Please Help Us Stop the Tar Sands Trackback on Jul 29th, 2009 at 3:02 pm
  2. 2 Mrs. Nixon, Please Help us Stop the Tar Sands « praxis makes perfect. Trackback on Jul 29th, 2009 at 3:10 pm
  3. 3 Please Help Us Mrs. Nixon RBC Tar Sands Action Video « It’s Getting Hot In Here Trackback on Jul 29th, 2009 at 3:45 pm
  4. 4 EcoChamber #15: Meet the woman at Ground Zero of the tar-sands fight : Trackback on Aug 5th, 2009 at 8:25 am
  5. 5 Kind of like shearing a sheep « praxis makes perfect. Trackback on Aug 28th, 2009 at 3:31 am
  6. 6 BREAKING – activists drop 70″ banner off of NIAGRA FALLS to tell Canadian PM: NO TAR SANDS oil! « It’s Getting Hot In Here Trackback on Sep 15th, 2009 at 9:09 am
  7. 7 The Understory » BREAKING – activists drop 70″ banner off of NIAGRA FALLS to tell Canadian PM: NO TAR SANDS oil! Trackback on Sep 15th, 2009 at 9:12 am
  8. 8 BREAKING – activists drop 70″ banner off of NIAGRA FALLS to tell Canadian PM: NO TAR SANDS oil! « praxis makes perfect. Trackback on Sep 15th, 2009 at 9:19 am
  9. 9 The Ruckus Society » 70 foot banner dropped over Niagra Falls to welcome PM Harper: WE DONT WANT YOUR DIRTY OIL! Trackback on Sep 15th, 2009 at 1:26 pm
  10. 10 Activists Drop 70′ Banner Off of NIAGARA FALLS to Tell Canadian PM: NO TAR SANDS OIL! | Mobilization for Climate Justice WEST Trackback on Sep 16th, 2009 at 4:07 pm
  11. 11 The Understory » RAN Toronto Crashes RBC’s Unveiling of New Headquarters Trackback on Oct 2nd, 2009 at 2:29 pm
  12. 12 Unveiling Our Dirty Oil Closet Trackback on Apr 26th, 2010 at 4:48 pm
  13. 13 results! « flexible tension Trackback on Jul 18th, 2010 at 4:17 am
  14. 14 Michael Brune: Daring Protest at Niagra Falls | Trackback on Oct 6th, 2010 at 7:41 am
Comments are currently closed.

About Joshua Kahn

Joshua Kahn Russell is an organizer serving movements for social justice and ecological balance. He is an action coordinator, facilitator, & trainer with the Ruckus Society, and has trained thousands of activists. He has helped win campaigns against banks, oil companies, logging corporations, and coal barons; worked with a wide variety of groups in a breadth of arenas, from local resiliency projects, to national coalitions, to the United Nations Climate Negotiations. He has authored chapters for numerous books, most recently The Next Eco-Warriors. His articles have appeared in Yes! magazine, Left Turn, PeaceWork magazine, Upping the Anti, and Z Magazine. His blog is and you can follow him on Twitter at @joshkahnrussell For a full bio see:

Community Picks