July 20, 2023
For Our Kids member Miranda, talks about her experience with divestment.
I have two little boys, who are one and four, and we live in Calgary, Alberta. I joined For Our Kids this past February. I was already worried about how my money might be supporting fossil fuels as an RBC customer, and For Our Kids’ Banks campaign helped give me the knowledge and the push I needed. I started to look into moving our accounts from RBC and moving my kids’ RESPs to more sustainable options. The process wasn’t easy, but it was worthwhile, and I want to share it with others who might be considering moving your money. Especially in Alberta, where climate change is sometimes not talked about as readily, taking action and calling banks to account can be challenging, but it’s worth it.
I started Registered Education Savings Plans with Canadian Scholarship Trust, a group RESP plan that reaches out to parents soon after their babies are born, a very vulnerable time. But, when I realized that they are heavily invested
fuels, I decided we needed to move our RESPs. The disconnect was keeping me up at night. I can’t invest for my kids’ future at the cost of their future, and I don’t want to mindlessly support something that I don’t agree with.
But the process of moving our money has been challenging. When I first spoke to my bank manager at RBC about my concerns about fossil fuel investments and that RBC is the world’s biggest funder of fossil fuels, the response was one of surprise. They told me that I was the first person to bring up this concern.
I began to look into credit unions in Calgary, but when I went to Servus CU, I was surprised and frustrated to encounter the same response. I kept hearing that I’m the first one to ask this, which makes me wonder if people are connecting the dots between what’s happening around them and the urgency of climate change, or if the financial institutions just aren’t listening -- especially since this was at the peak of the wildfires and air quality warnings this spring.
Finally I tried Connect First credit union. At last, I wasn’t the first one to bring this up. They really seemed to care about my concerns. And they were able to direct me to NEI for our RESPs. NEI (Northwest & Ethical Investments) are a family of responsible mutual funds, committed to being fossil-free.
I’m happy to have found NEI and I’m excited that we’re moving our kids’ RESPs. But it took a long time, and a lot of work. It shouldn’t be so hard to bank in ways that protect our kids’ futures – and it shouldn’t depend on what province you live in, or whether you happen to have the time, energy, knowledge, or motivation to do all the research and work involved in identifying fossil-free investments. That’s why building awareness of the need for systemic change to the banking system is an important ingredient in climate action. A new tool that could make a big difference is the Climate-Aligned Finance Act, which would bring our whole financial system in line with our Paris Agreement climate targets. Learning about and supporting CAFA is something parents can do today, so that as a society we’re all working towards the goal of climate justice and liveable futures for our kids, and our money is working with us.