The University of Ottawa puts on this facade that we are a worldwide leader in sustainable development. Meanwhile, the university invests significant amounts of money in many fossil fuel companies through the endowment and pension funds. These companies are fueling the climate crisis and injecting wealth and power into climate denial and inaction. For a few years now, students at the University of Ottawa have tirelessly been working on a campaign to get the University of Ottawa to divest from fossil fuel companies, under the name of Fossil Free uOttawa. We believe that our university should be a centre for progress, not destruction.
We know divestment works. The most successful divestment campaign helped to end South African apartheid. By the mid-1980s, 155 university and college campuses had divested from companies doing business in South Africa. This economic pressure effectively isolated the apartheid regime and contributed to its collapse. Interestingly enough, the University of Ottawa never committed to divesting its pension fund from South African apartheid during the ’80s (although Carleton did!), despite demands made by the university community. At Carleton U, concerted student pressure over several years led to partial divestment from certain companies in South Africa and eventually to full divestment. Carleton found itself on the right side of history because of student activism and its decision to divest.
In a week’s time, Fossil Free uOttawa will be presenting a motion at the upcoming General Assembly of the Student Federation. We’re calling on our students’ union, the SFUO, to publicly endorse our campaign. This General Assembly is our opportunity to direct the work of our students’ union. It is an open meeting for all uOttawa undergraduate students where everyone has an equal vote. All you need to do is show up. Join us Monday, Nov. 17 at 5 p.m. in the Ottawa Convention Centre in support of our motion.
Be on the right side of history as we push to make the University of Ottawa the first university in Canada to go fossil free, truly establishing ourselves as leaders in sustainable development.