When we formed RAVEN in 2009, it was because the original board recognized the need to redress an inherent imbalance. To obtain justice in the courts for Canada’s First Nations in their struggle to protect rights and lands native leaders, advocates and their legal teams face overwhelming odds when going against the established interests of large corporations and the governments that support them. Governments and wealthy corporations hire large teams of lawyers and experts to bolster their arguments. Their resources can quickly exhaust the budgets of cash-strapped First Nations and their dedicated legal teams that all too often work pro bono because of their belief in the cause. The cost of evidence-gathering and expert reports are invariably immense. Yet, without such evidence, Indigenous causes are bound to fail in colonial legal systems.
Since our humble beginnings, in a donated office based in Victoria, BC with just one staff person, we have already enjoyed significant success. Visit our Victories page to learn about how RAVEN’s strategic approach is making big changes.
Since 2014, we’ve raised more than a million dollars through the Pull Together campaign, helping fund legal challenges that led to the cancellation of the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline. A second Pull Together campaign is currently targeting Kinder Morgan. We were able to help mount not one but two formidable campaigns to raise the funds that enabled the Tsilhqot’in National Government to achieve success in defence of Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) and their sacred homeland. We have kept the Beaver Lake Cree Nation’s legal action alive, despite efforts to have it thrown out of court. We helped four Yukon First Nations defend the Peel Watershed in a historic Supreme Court victory. And we have assisted other nations, such as Lake Babine First Nation, with legal actions. We also expanded, moving to a new space large enough to house our growing team.
We anticipate even greater victories in the courts of the land with the continued assistance of those who, like us, believe that our legal system should first and foremost dispense justice based on the best evidence available regardless of wealth and power imbalances. Struggles worldwide for the rights of Indigenous peoples are frequently closely related to the effort to prevent industrial mega-projects that degrade the environment. By obtaining financial support for these connected causes we intend to bring balance into the game.