“With the spirit of BC behind us”

The Pull Together campaign has been an incredible ride.

From the moment we knew we could say “yes” to taking on fundraising for First Nations standing in the path of the Enbridge pipeline and tankers project, to the moment we sent off cheques to the legal teams of six nations, we knew this project was going to be as much about building community as it would be about raising money.

 Learning how passionately people in BC feel about standing in solidarity with small communities on the front line of climate change was heartening. Seeing that passion translate into meaningful action has helped harden our resolve to carry this legal challenge through to victory. Supporters of Pull Together have gifted us with the beginnings of the resources the nations need to win. 

This week First Nations told us, directly, just how significant that support is to them.

We carry out these legal challenges with the spirit of our Nation behind us. Pull Together’s success has shown me we also carry them out with the spirit of BC behind us.

This fight will be won through conviction, commitment, and community. Every donor to date has shown me that each of those elements is strong. And for that, I am incredibly grateful.”  

— Jess Housty, councillor, Heiltsuk First Nation

I want to donate, but I need to know: how does the funding flow? 

In the brave new world of crowdfunding, “friendraising”, and online fundraising, it can be challenging to trace just how your contributions hit their mark. At RAVEN, we’re committed to transparency— and frankly rather proud of how efficiently we are able to fill a unique niche in the NGO world —so here’s a little primer in how your “donate now” clickthrough ends up funding access to justice for First Nations. {p.s. for all who donate: a gentle brush across both shoulders with fragrant west coast rainforest cedar. Thank you.} 

RAVEN’s executive director Susan Smitten explains how the funds flow from our innovative online fundraising platform to assist First Nations.

“First, the money goes into a trust fund.  Our arrangement, with Pull Together,  is to share the funds we raise equally among the First Nations who are involved in the campaign. Because RAVEN’s specific niche is to fund legal challenges, we enter into an arrangement with the Nations and their legal teams. Then, the legal teams, the Nation, and RAVEN communicate about the financial needs and availability of funds.  This is the same for other projects, like our work with Beaver Lake Cree Nation. The moment there are enough in our trust to take on an aspect of a particular challenge—say, mapping territory as evidence to be used in court— we come to an agreement that First Nations sign off on,  and, with the nations approval, we send the cheque through to pay the legal bill.”

“It’s definitely a collaborative process, where Nations, legal teams and RAVEN are talking all the time, so everyone knows how much has been raised and what bills are being paid,” says Smitten.

The Pull Together campaign has been more complex than some of RAVEN’s previous campaigns because the scope is so ambitious — as of this month, seven nations are all pulling to raise funds under one campaign.

As a brilliant jump-start, Pull Together was able to pull in matching funds of $125,000 quite early on, provided we could match that donor’s funds by raising  $125,000. To date, the campaign has brought in $350,000. What that means is that we’ve matched that initial $125,000 and have sent the cheques out for the $250,000 to the Nations now. Meanwhile, the remaining $100k essentially “seeds” the NEXT round of matching funds we’ve secured, so we can set a new goal— a whopping $600k.  We’re already $100k in, and we know BC can pull this off.

“It’s an amazing moment when we actually send off the cheques to the legal teams! In our heritage building in downtown Victoria we still have an old fashioned mailing chute. It was actually pretty fun sending off the first batch of cheques from Pull Together’s first round of fundraising,” laughs Smitten. 


Susan Smitten & Laurie MacKenzie sending Pull Together cheques off to First Nations legal teams

Phase Two of Pull Together kicks off

For those of you who made $50 pledges, to people who organized and attended Pull Together fundraisers around the province—RAVEN is profoundly grateful. We’ve raised $350,000 and we’re not stopping. With the recent sign-on by the Haida and Gitga’at Nations, our new goal is $600,000.

It would be exhausting to try to sustain a campaign of this magnitude if it weren’t for the hundreds of supporters who have jumped in to help. As the saying goes, “many paddles, one canoe.”  

Our commitment to stand with First Nations is stronger than ever, thanks to you.  Please share this post with your networks & let YOUR precious peeps know where you stand. \ o /



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