News from the Nest

Once the clocks turn back, we move into the time of reflection, planning and learning from the past year. Winter prods us to ask: what work is needed to be ready for year end? Where can we be warmed by our energy and efforts this year?  For RAVEN, this year has been filled with affirmations of the direction of our work, the legal theory of change that underpins our mission, and our vision of living in a country that honours the ancestral laws of Indigenous Peoples and their equitable access to the justice system within a thriving natural habitat.  We hold our hands to the flames, our intentions now fully fuelled actions.


For starters, we were buoyed by the October 24th introduction of legislation to bring the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples’ into British Columbia. Though this is not RAVEN’s direct work, moving towards having UNDRIP  become the law of the land is movement in the right direction. The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People Act — the first law of its kind in Canada —  recognizes the role of Indigenous Peoples in BC in all decisions that have an impact on their territories. What we are excited about is that this proposed statute follows through on government commitments to reconcile BC law with UNDRIP.


This news was sent out a few weeks ago, but it’s so great it bears repeating!  Beaver Lake Cree Nation walked the razor’s edge of a very narrow legal test and won an order for advance costs. This award rarely handed out in Canada, will turbocharge their now decades long Tar Sands Trial.  Now, BLCN’s legal team can show that the cumulative impacts of the tar sands industries have infringed their treaty rights so substantially as to render the promises of 1864’s Treaty 6 almost meaningless. To qualify for advance costs, BLCN  had to prove their legal action is precedent-setting, in the national interest, and that as a Nation they are ‘impecunious’ – financially broke. The court ruled in the Nation’s favour — so now, it’s game on. Canada and Alberta must pay two-thirds of the cost, leaving the Beaver Lake Cree to pay $300K per year. No trial date has been set yet. We will keep you posted as this momentous legal glacier moves forward.

In the category of more good news, the Haida, Heiltsuk and Little Shuswap Nations were granted leave to be heard as intervenors at the Supreme Court in the “bitumen reference”.  This is BC’s legal action to challenge the Trans Mountain pipeline’s proposed route through the province. When the lower court ruled against BC, the province appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, who have agreed to hear this.  Getting the Nations to Ottawa as intervenors is so important – because so often Indigenous voices aren’t heard by the court. Their concerns are not then seen as something to be reckoned with, and aren’t reflected in court judgments.  We are proud to have raised the funds for round one, plus the filing fees to get to this next step.


If you missed our blog, from our Communications and Engagement Director Andrea Palframan, here is the link to a report on  this momentous, emotional and truly epic event.  Hands up all ‘round for the power and leadership of Heiltsuk Nation. Also, we want to recognize Andrea, whose brilliant short film Raven People Rising — which captures the story of the Heiltsuk’s response to the oil spill from the Nathan E. Stewart — was a highlight at the Vancouver International Film Fest, and will be a showcase at the One World Film Festival in Ottawa.


The Pull Together campaign has always been a broad and fast-moving river;  now, we’re entering the rapids stage! From the “Pushback on Petro” dance party to “Pancakes Not Pipelines”, check out the many events planned for Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, Toronto, and Montreal.  We’re especially appreciative of our growing community of progressive businesses which is Pulling Together to unfurl a Week to End TMX.  Between Nov 27-Dec 3, proceeds from yoga to kombucha to coffee and meals out are going to the campaign!


We extend a warm and gratitude-filled hello to our newest monthly donors: Emma G, Susie Q, Harry B, Judith J, Brenda GJ, John S, Maya R, Susan H, Christopher H, Kathryn R, and Andrea H!


Rounding out this year, we want to thank some of the foundations and friends who support RAVEN’s work and some who have been with us for many years: we can reach further and work more deeply thanks to Donner Canadian Foundation, Wilburforce Foundation, Klein-Panneton Foundation and Ruby Fund.  Thank you!!

Hands raised to everyone in our RAVEN circle who have been part of making this past year truly remarkable. We hope this season also brings you space to reflect, and time for peace and connection.  We’re excited about what 2020 will bring and you will be among the first to know as our strategic legal cases progress.

With love,

The RAVEN Team

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