Aviva Community Fund winner rejects prize over investment in tar sands

Published: December 6, 2017

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones



Early this month, Aviva Canada named the winners of its 2017 Aviva Community Fund (ACF), an annual competition that hands out over $1 million to projects that aid the community. The winner of the 2017 Legacy Award and $150,000 was Indigenous Climate Action (ICA), but then something amazing happened.

For the first time a winning ACF company turned down the award and refused the funding. ICA is an indigenous-led climate justice project and said the prize and award are a “direct contradiction” between the company’s ethos and Aviva’s financial relationship with gas and oil projects.

ICA says its vision, mission, and value are against some of Aviva’s investment avenues. The obvious question is why the company entered the ACF in the first place. However, ICA explains once the news it had won filtered through, the company discovered Aviva plc holds passive investments in companies working in Alberta’s tar sands. The companies are Teck Resource Ltd (Frontier Open pit mine), Encana, Exxon, Imperial, Suncor, Chevron, Cenovus, Kinder Morgan (TransMountain pipeline), TransCanada (Keystone XL pipeline); and Enbridge (Line 3 pipeline).

“We cannot in good conscience accept an award from a corporation that is financially associated with fossil fuel energy projects that violate the rights of Indigenous peoples and contribute to global climate change. Our organization is working to support Indigenous rights and address the climate crisis while Aviva is investing in corporations proposing or operating tar sands projects that threaten water, land, the climate and Indigenous rights,” stated Eriel Deranger, Executive Director of Indigenous Climate Action.

Aviva plc says the rejection of the award is within ICA’s rights and it will begin discussions on how to divest in corporate investments in the tar sands.

“There are other insurance companies who are taking the climate risk seriously, such as Swiss Re who recently have limited their underwriting of shale gas, tar sands and Arctic drilling projects. We want to see a major commitment from Aviva to climate action alongside their community fund and scientific research and a broader commitment to finding the mechanisms to divest from tar sands pipelines and projects. We need Aviva to look seriously into their investment in projects that are violating the rights of Indigenous Peoples, furthering the expansion of the Alberta tar sands infrastructure and pipelines which pose a major threat to the stability of the global climate,” stated Suzanne Dhaliwal, Director of the UK Tar Sands Network.