RAVEN’s 2023 Reflections (Part 2)

As we flip through the final pages of 2023, we want to take a moment to reflect on a transformative year. 2023 has been a landmark year for RAVEN, with 16 Nations supported and powerful legal precedents achieved. Yet, the year has also been tough for so many, marked by the harsh realities of inflation, the far-reaching impacts of climate change, and a feeling of urgency around collective unrest and grief that is echoing across the globe. 

The weight of these challenges underscores the importance of the work we do at RAVEN to support Indigenous Nations in their pursuit of justice. We find solace and strength in the solidarity of our community — in you. 

Amongst the many complicated tales emerging throughout 2023, we have continued writing and illustrating stories to amplify the call for Indigenous justice across Canada. The tapestry of stories from the last year have been complex: beautiful and mucky, awe-inspiring, and, at times, scary.

We recently caught up with Nick Avis, who raised over $17K for RAVEN as he biked across Canada from coast to coast to coast. With more than 106 days of riding, Nick went through it all. Storms, wildfires, an encounter with a bear. But as Nick said “Every day of the trip was exhausting, but it was also joyful.”

Nothing rings truer to us — an organization whose mission it is to support Indigenous Nations reasserting their rights through colonial courts. It’s exhausting. And, not every legal challenge is a win. But, we really do find the joy along the way.

Nick definitely felt a sense of pride in his incredible feat, but he also wouldn’t have made it to the end without the generosity and kindness of the people he met along the way. In particular, after cycling through rain every single day in Saskatchewan, and pedaling against 40km headwinds for days on end Nick wasn’t hitting his daily goals. What he expected to take 2 hours would end up taking 5 or 6. Being in remote Saskatchewan, there were few shops between his planned stops. His food and drinking water were running low, he hadn’t been dry in days, and his motivation was dwindling.

Approaching the Manitoba border, he was beginning to give up when he noticed one tiny little dot pop up on his app that offered hospitality and hosts for touring cyclists. He biked the hardest he could to get there before night set in. On the precipice of giving up, these strangers opened their home to Nick. “They changed everything and the next day wasn’t any better, it was still raining, but my outlook had changed. They saved the trip, if not for them I would have given up.”

The key takeaway? Nothing is done in silo. Nick couldn’t have completed over 12,600kms without the generosity of the people he met along the way — and he didn’t have to.

At RAVEN, we know that Indigenous Nations should not have to go up against outdated colonial laws to reassert their rights alone. Financial support to take on legal challenges that have the opportunity to restore our outlook for the future is just one way to support the movement for Indigenous justice.

We are powered by YOU! And, powered by stories. Just as oral histories are becoming integral to proving, in court, the rights of Indigenous Peoples to jurisdiction over their territories, so too do the stories of how people creatively fundraise become part of the fabric of the next world we are building together. Our collective future is being woven from many separate threads: bound together by justice. 

As we reflect on the last year, we thank you for being our partners on the path to a more just future for all.

The work we do here at RAVEN is at the intersection of colonial law and Indigenous laws. And it’s not always a comfortable place to be. But, in partnership with the Nations we support and hand in hand with RAVEN supporters, we know that our struggles are interconnected. Our shared commitment binds us together.

Your ongoing support is not only a testament to the strength of our community, but it’s a crucial contribution to the collective movement we believe in. 

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