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To hesitate, or to lead a nation in change?

Crowd of 200 asks Dalhousie to be the first Canadian university to divest from fossil fuels

Divest Dal supporters gather on campus before rallying at the BOG meeting. ••• Photo by Alexander Maxwell
Divest Dal supporters gather on campus before rallying at the BOG meeting. ••• Photo by Alexander Maxwell

Dalhousie students and alumni gathered for the Board of Governors meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 21 in support of Divest Dal and their goal to cease the university’s investments in the fossil fuel industry.

Jeremy Banks, a member of the Divest movement said Dal has “over $20 million invested in coal, oil, and gas industries.”

Divest Dal has been working steadily since May 2013 to redirect the $465 million in Dal’s endowment fund away from the world’s top 200 fossil fuel companies, and strengthen the school’s reputation as a sustainable institution and a leader on climate change.

“Divestment is about telling the world that it is not okay to benefit from exploitation. In this case, it is the exploitation of our land,” says Banks.

The Board of Governors meeting offered the group a chance to put pressure on the Board for Divest’s goal.

“We have a clear request, for Dalhousie to freeze all of its investments in the fossil fuel industry, to commit to divesting all holdings in the industry within four years, and to greatly increase the transparency of the placement of Dalhousie’s investments,” said Banks.

George McLellan, chair of the Investment Committee, said the Board will have a decision regarding the request at the next meeting on Nov. 25, — “When [Divest Dal] comes back”.

For Divest Dal, this is a step in the right direction.

“Until now we have had little indication as to where the board stands or if they are going to ever make a decision,” said Banks.

McLellan and fellow Board member Bill Black agree Dal has built its reputation as a sustainability-minded school.

If Dal commits to divest from the fossil fuel industry, they would be the first university in Canada to do so.

While the Board has about a month to make their decision, Banks is confident. “Divest Dal is constantly growing, our voice getting stronger and stronger,” he said. “Whatever decision the Board makes on Nov. 25, we are not going anywhere.”

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