RAVEN - Respecting Aboriginal Values and Environmental Needs

How We Work

Our Approach: Justice from the Inside Out

RAVEN chooses which campaigns to take on based on expert advice from our Legal Advisory Panel. Once we have a partnership agreement in place with a Nation, we work together to tell the story of what’s at stake in each case – for Indigenous Peoples, for communities and for the planet. Then we reach out and join together with movement leaders, fellow organizations and passionate allies to organize events, fundraise online and engage businesses in stepping up for Indigenous rights. 

We welcome applications from potential Indigenous partners: see our Partner Guidelines here. 

RAVEN’s volunteer Legal Panel is charged with reviewing the applications for fundraising support that RAVEN receives from Indigenous Peoples across Canada. The Panel provides their legal perspective to RAVEN’s Board of Directors who make final decisions about any new cases RAVEN will support. We are fortunate to have some of the best legal minds in the country to help us choose where to focus our precious resources where we can have maximum impact. 

Watch this video and hear from Dr. John Borrows, founder of the first Indigenous law degree program in Canada and the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law at the University of Victoria. Dr. Borrows is a distinguished member of RAVEN’s advisory panel and brings a wealth of legal experience, grounded in stories, language, and ways of being and knowing that are rooted in his Anishinabe culture. 

 

 

 

Get Involved with RAVEN

Organize or Host Events

RAVEN provides all the materials you need to host a speaker, show one of our documentary films, or organize a fundraiser to bring your community together and have fun!

Find Out More

Become a RAVEN Supporter

Make a donation to support RAVEN or to one of our campaigns. You can join RAVEN’s Circle of Allies as a monthly donor to make a reliable commitment to recognizing rights.

Donate Now

Fundraise Online

We use the power of the crowd to raise millions of dollars for Indigenous Rights. Use our easy crowdfunding platform to tell a story, engage your friends and family, and contribute meaningfully to Indigenous justice. 

Set Up a Fundraiser

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why RAVEN?

We are rooted in an ethic that comes from a belief in fairness. We build partnerships, not empires. We hope for a day when our vision is realized and our services are no longer needed because constitutional democracy is flourishing. But until then, we do our best to level the playing field.

Focus

RAVEN sees the inequity in accessing the justice system. One of the key barriers to justice is the high cost of the Canadian legal system. RAVEN raises money to help First Nations tackle the big issues of treaty rights and protecting traditional land and ways of life from the relentless reach of non-sustainable industrial expansion. We stand shoulder to shoulder in support of their rights, so that we can achieve parity for the people on whose land we live.
To learn more about the guiding principals behind the cases and campaigns we take on, visit https://raventrust.com/approach/fundraising-partner-guidelines/.

History

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 (https://raventrust.com/victories) to learn about how RAVEN’s strategic approach is making big changes.

Litigation

With the June 26, 2014 Tsilhqot’in declaration of Aboriginal title, First Nations in Canada have a viable legal path to victory in stopping unsustainable resource extraction. RAVEN is a key charitable organization for assisting First Nations in establishing their Aboriginal title and regaining control of their land base for sustainable purposes.
The environmental challenges that face many First Nations in Canada are really challenges for the entire world. For example, the scale of potential environmental devastation in the Alberta oil sands is comparable to the destruction of the rain forests of Brazil. These issues affect everyone, not only the First Nations communities who are feeling the impacts now. These are global issues that are being fought in Canadian courtrooms. To ignore these injustices would be tantamount to condoning them.
Fundamentally, we believe these are issues of human rights and climate change – we are seeking environmental justice for all. The constitutional rights of First Nations groups are the strongest environmental laws in Canada (and possibly the world), especially now that the Canadian government has gutted national environmental protection legislation. The law is clearly on the side of First Nations, and their victories will help to protect us all.
Unfortunately, there is an inherent imbalance for Canada’s First Nations in their struggle to protect their rights and lands in our legal system. Native leaders, advocates and their legal teams almost always face overwhelming odds when going against the established interests of large corporations and the governments that support them. Governments and wealthy corporations are able to hire large teams of lawyers and experts to bolster their arguments. Their resources appear almost limitless in comparison to First Nations groups and their dedicated legal teams, who often work pro-bono simply because of their belief in the cause. The background research and other costs involved in winning legal cases are invariably immense. Yet, without adequate research and background information, native causes are likely to fail in non-native legal systems.
RAVEN was formed to redress this imbalance and provide tangible, financial resources to the First Nations communities who assert their right to maintain their land, their communities and ultimately their way of life, in the face of “big oil,” mining or other industrial interests.

Education

RAVEN is also committed to assisting First Nations by developing and delivering education to advance knowledge and understanding of available legal rights and remedies. We are also committed to hosting “Courageous Conversations” : online and real-world dialogues to deepen awareness and understanding of Indigenous rights and to discover meaningful ways of putting reconciliation into action in our day-to-day lives.

Learn More: https://raventrust.com/courageous-conversations

RAVEN's Track Record

Since 2014, RAVEN has disbursed millions of dollars to our campaign communities. This support has resulted in the cancellation of permits for the Enbridge Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan pipelines. 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. Through our Tar Sands Trial campaign, we ensured the Beaver Lake Cree litigation has the funds to continue to trial to stop the degradation of their traditional lands by the tar sands industries. 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 and Heiltsuk Nation to protect their territory and assert their sovereignty over land, air and water.

We have provided support to 19 Nations through over a decade of working towards levelling the paying field and ensuring access to justice for Indigenous Peoples.

RAVEN’s support also means that Indigenous nations do not have to divert funds away from critical community resources like housing, addiction services, infrastructure and health care.

RAVEN’s Networked Change Approach

RAVEN is committed to networked change: we know we can’t take on the huge issues we are facing without a strong movement of people all across the country who are passionate about defending Indigenous rights.

We’re constantly blown away by the commitment, rigour, vitality and creativity of our allies. When it comes to fundraising online, throwing a party, hosting a fundraising concert, or pulling together a rally, our supporters have consistently knocked it out of the park in terms of creating fundraisers — both virtual and real-world —  with heart and impact. 

When you step up to become a RAVEN organizer you are taking the soft idea of ‘reconciliation’ and chiselling it into something far more effecting: redress. Thank you for taking a stand and joining us to retool this country and do the important work of setting relationships right. 

“There is no force in the country more powerful than this movement we’re building.” — Jess Housty, Heiltsuk Nation

We’ve enjoyed incredible support from allied organizations, student groups, businesses, community leaders and courageous individuals who have stepped up to fundraise for some of the biggest and most significant legal challenges of our time.

JOIN US. Click here to organize or volunteer with RAVEN.  

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