RAVEN - Respecting Aboriginal Values and Environmental Needs


Learn more about the context of RAVEN’s groundbreaking work. 

RAVEN’s work is taking place in a time of great change and great opportunity. With ‘reconciliation’ being discussed in communities, in classrooms, in boardrooms and on the floor of Parliament, there is an upwelling of interest and passion for engagement with Indigenous rights in Canada. 

At the same time, we face continued challenges as a result of centuries of assimilationist policy and colonization. While participating in dialogue about reconciliation, Indigenous communities continue to live without equitable access to clean water, to health care, and to education.

Good intentions are not enough. RAVEN is committed to putting reconciliation into action by providing access to justice so that Indigenous Peoples’ rights are recognized and upheld. Our small but mighty organization has a laser focus: we raise legal defence funds for Indigenous Peoples to defend their treaty rights and the integrity of their traditional lands and cultures.

We stand shoulder to shoulder in support of the rights of Indigenous Peoples, so that we can achieve parity for the people on whose land we live.


The purpose of this guide is to provide information on the different Aboriginal rights as they are understood in Canadian common law, and the ways in which Indigenous people can assert these rights within the Canadian colonial court system.


RAVEN Trust - Download - Report

We are inspired in our search for education and growth by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission: 

“… many generations of children, including you and your parents, have been raised to think about things in a different way, in the wrong way, in a way that is negative when it comes to Aboriginal People. And we need to change that. It was the educational system that has contributed to this problem in this country. And it is the educational system, we believe, which is going to help us to get away from this…. We cannot look for quick and easy solutions because there are none. We need to be able to look at this from the perspective of where do we want to be in 3 or 4 or 5 or 7 generations from now, when we talk about the relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal People in this country. And if we can agree on what that relationship needs to look like in the future then what we need to think about, is what can we do today that will contribute to that objective. Reconciliation will be about ensuring that everything we do today is aimed at that high standard of restoring that balance to that relationship.”

  — Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair of Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.


FPIC: Free Prior and Informed Consent:

Free, Prior and Informed Consent is the right of Indigenous Peoples to say “yes” or “no” to all proposed developments that may affect the collective rights of their communities. Consent must be discussed free from threat to individuals or communities; must be sought prior to the beginning of any development which may affect Indigenous lands; and ensure community leaders are able to make informed decisions based on all necessary facts about the known and potential risks and benefits for their communities.

You can learn more here: http://whatis.fpic.info/


Paul Joffe (2013). United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Provisions relevant to “Consent” (2013)

United Nations (2007). The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Amnesty International Canada (2012). Factsheet on the UN Declaration

Amnesty International Canada (2013). Factsheet on Free, Prior and Informed Consent

American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2016)


“How To” FPIC

Boreal Council (2015). Understanding Successful Approaches to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent in Canada. Part I. Recent Developments and Effective Roles for Government, Industry and Indigenous Communities


Understanding the Context

James Anaya (former UN Special rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous peoples) (2013) Extractive industries and indigenous peoples


Compilations of FPIC resources


UNDRIP: United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The UN Declaration is a comprehensive statement addressing the human rights of Indigenous peoples. It was drafted and formally debated for over 20 years prior to being adopted by the General Assembly on 13 September 2007. The document emphasizes the rights of Indigenous peoples to live in dignity, to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions and to pursue their self-determined development, in keeping with their own needs and aspirations.

UN Declarations are generally not legally binding; however, they represent the dynamic development of international legal norms and reflect the commitment of states to move in certain directions, abiding by certain principles. The Declaration, however, is widely viewed as not creating new rights. Rather, it provides a detailing or interpretation of the human rights enshrined in other international human rights instruments of universal resonance – as these apply to indigenous peoples and indigenous individuals. It is in that sense that the Declaration has a binding effect for the promotion, respect and fulfillment of the rights of indigenous peoples worldwide.

You can read the Declaration here: https://www.un.org/development/desa/indigenouspeoples/declaration-on-the-rights-of-indigenous-peoples.html


Indigenous Laws

RAVEN’s vision is a country where constitutional democracy is flourishing because Indigenous laws, rights and stewardship values are honoured. Here are the links to two incredible programs aimed at exploring and understanding Indigenous laws in BC.

Useful links: 

Indigenous Law Research Unit (ILRU): https://www.uvic.ca/law/about/indigenous/indigenouslawresearchunit/index.php

West Coast Environmental Law: Revitalizing Indigenous law for Land, Air and Water (RELAW) https://www.wcel.org/our-work/relaw-revitalizing-indigenous-law-land-air-and-water

First People’s Law: seeks to explain the legal and historical basis for Indigenous rights in Canada and is intended for Indigenous, non-Indigenous and academic audiences. https://www.firstpeopleslaw.com/public-education/publications.php

Titled “Memorial to Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Premier of the Dominion of Canada,” this document was presented by the “Chiefs of the Shuswap, Okanagan and Couteau Tribes of British Columbia” to the Prime Minister on August 25, 1910 during Laurier’s campaign tour stop in Kamloops. The document is reproduced on the website of the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council and is prefaced by a contextual essay introducing the reader to Secwépemc (Shuswap), Nlaka’pamux (Thompson), and Syilx (Okanagan) traditional law regarding land and resource use and explaining events in the region leading up to Laurier’s visit. The document is wonderfully informative and we strongly encourage anyone interested in interior B.C. land issues or Indigenous knowledge to spend some time with it. http://niche-canada.org/2015/03/04/they-have-stolen-our-lands-and-everything-on-them-a-centurys-old-assertion-of-first-nations-land-and-resource-rights-in-the-bc-interior/


Solidarity & Allyship

With reconciliation being discussed in communities, in classrooms, in boardrooms and on the floor of Parliament, there is an upwelling of interest and passion for engagement with Indigenous rights in Canada. Canadians are leaning in to understand the history of Indigenous Peoples, and to know the underlying issues of colonization and assimilation, to know where we each individually stand in relation to treaties, to reconciliation, and most of all to truth. Indigenous Peoples are participating in this dialogue about reconciliation in community, and in the courtrooms they are defending their ‘constitutionally enshrined rights’, all while they continue to live without equitable access to clean water, to health care, and to education.

The colonial period in which we currently live is characterized by Crown sovereignty being exercised without regard or respect for Indigenous land and resources rights. Reconciliation is, at law, a promise made to the Indigenous Peoples of Canada and enshrined in the Constitution Act, 1982. Today, acts of reconciliation are essential as they are about forcing Crown sovereignty to take account of and be reconciled with rights reflecting the prior use and occupation of land and resources by the Indigenous nations of Canada.

Please dig in to these educational resources!


National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation:




Decolonization Handbook http://gofile.me/3TLxF/LMIUSEz0F

BC Treaty Info:



http://www.leadnow.ca/skills-for-solidarity/ from http://www.leadnow.ca/engage/

MOOCS (Massive Open Online Courses)

@ University of Alberta:


@ Coursera:




First Nations: Land Rights and Environmentalism in Canada


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