RAVEN’s values are embodied in our program to support the Beaver Lake Cree Nation’s fight against the Alberta tar sands developments.

Thanks to everyone who donated to The Tar Sands Trial crowd-source campaign!  

What you need to know!    Start by watching this powerful, moving talk by Crystal Lameman, a band member who speaks about what is happening to her home and why her small nation is suing Canada and Alberta to stop it.

Also take 15 minutes to watch Myron Lameman's EXTRACTION for a moving account of what is at stake.  For maps and detail - check out these reports on the facts about in situ oil extraction and on the impacts on endangered woodland caribou.  And finally - here is a handy 2-page briefing note you can print and share!!

In May 2014, it will be six years since Beaver Lake Cree Nation launched its legal action aimed at protecting their traditional lands and treaty rights.  We have some FAQs and info below. Scroll down.

For daily updates, please check out RAVEN's Facebook page.

Beaver Lake Cree Nation is a community of 900 Woodland Cree whose homelands are in the path of the largest industrial project on earth. Their courageous fight to protect their hunting grounds is also the world’s fight – to prevent expansion of the climate-destroying tar sands developments in Alberta.
Chief Henry Gladue

pipeline and caribou
The BLCN's constitutional rights are the strongest environmental laws in Canada (and possibly the world) now that the Canadian federal government has gutted Canada’s environmental legislation.  (The oil industry would like you to believe that the in situ or underground sites aren't that bad - because they don't look as ugly as the open pits - but in fact they're just as bad if not worse. Check out the myth-busting Greenpeace report.)

This is critical. The fight of the Beaver Lake Cree to protect their hunting grounds and fishing waters is supported by those who see the massive destruction of the landscape as an environmental crime, and those who fear that the carbon released by the heavy oil projects may take the planet’s climate past the tipping point.

Flora Gladue, BLCN member ~ The fish don't taste good any more because of the pollution from the oil sands. They used to be pure fish, clean fish. Now, with all the pollution from oil sands development, they don't taste the same.

This is winnable. The law is clearly on the side of First Nations. The only barrier to justice and victory in this case is the high cost of the legal system. Canada and Alberta do not want to lose this case, and they are putting up a serious fight.


1. Summary of Case:  Alberta and Canada have far exceeded the land’s capacity for development.  They have recklessly authorized oil sands projects, military facilities and other development without any real regard for the rights of Beaver Lake and other Treaty Nations.  While any one of these projects by themselves might be tolerable taken together they threaten to destroy BLCN's way of life and the land that has sustained them for centuries.  Alberta and Canada of course take a different view – they say they were entitled to ignore BLCN's rights; they say they took their rights away from them; they say their environmental laws are good enough.  BLCN is asking the courts to hold Canada and Alberta to account for what they have done and make it clear that there is a limit to development and they have ignored it.

Canada's environmental laws have been steadily weakened, with the passing of Bill C-38 and the shutting down of the Experimental Lake Area as the latest blows. Yet protection for aboriginal and treaty rights have been strengthened – even as recently as the June 27, 2012 BC Supreme Court of Appeal ruling (found at this link http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/CA/12/02/2012BCCA0285.htm).

map of oilsands leases2.  The Treaty:  The people of BLCN were promised that they could keep their way of life – that they would have what they had and would have the benefits of the treaty as well.  In return they would live in peace with the newcomers.  Their ancestors would have never imagined – or agreed to – anything like what has happened.  If the government wanted more they should have said so and negotiated fairly and honestly.  All they are doing is holding the government to the promises they made – not just the words they chose to write down on the paper the chiefs could not read.

3. Cumulative effects:  While every project matters this Beaver Lake is not just fighting one project – they are concerned about the way the government has allowed their whole land to be made unrecognizable.  They are affected by oil sands projects, conventional oil and gas, military bases, agriculture, roads and pipelines – how can it be that the governments completely forgot about them in this process?

4. Is this case just about the money?  There is a damages claim but the big effect of this case – when they win – is that it would make it clear that there is a limit to what Canada and Alberta can do to BLCN and their land.  It would make it clear that they cannot continue to push pass Beaver Lake and do what they want on their lands.  This is far more important than the money and has a far greater effect.  This case is about protecting the future not just about money for the past.

Please consider contributing today to this important effort! 

5. Why has this case taken so long?  This is huge case that is pushing the envelope of the law.  We always knew it was going to take time to do right and are committed to doing what needs to be done to make sure the courts hear the best possible case.  It does not help that BLCN is a small nation and has limited resources – sometimes we have to pause while we re-group and build strength.

6. Does this have to go to court?  So far the Governments of Canada and Alberta have shown no signs of wanting to seriously speak to the band about their concerns.  It is hard to see how their needs can be addressed if the Governments just plan to do what they have always done. 

blind_justiceRAVEN intervened to attempt to bring some fairness to this situation.  We provide resources needed so that native leaders have access to the necessary research, preparation and legal support.  Without this, native causes are bound to fail in non-native legal systems simply for lack of funds.  RAVEN's mission is to redress this inherent imbalance and to obtain justice in the courts for First Nations struggling to protect rights and lands, and to ultimately protect the planet we all live on. 

Through amazing donors, foundations and socially responsible corporations like the Cooperative Bank in Manchester, UK, RAVEN has raised more than $850,000 to keep the legal action alive - helping to stave off the motions by Canada and Alberta to have the whole thing thrown out of court before it even gets to trial!!

YOU play a crucial role in the outcome of this effort.  Because of people like you, the Beaver Lake Cree have made it through Phase One - the hurdle of getting to an actual trial.  Now the work of gathering evidence, scientific reports and writing arguments begins.

Please join the effort and donate today.
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