Raising the roof, shifting the paradigm

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What. A. Week.

The week began with the landmark opening of the Big House in Heiltsuk territory. PAOV: wish you'd been there. As elders — many of whom lived through the dark days when cultural practices were banned — looked on, four generations of Heiltsuk people danced around the fire beneath soaring totems that stand as beacons of resilience and hope.

As Heiltsuk feasted and celebrated, our amazing RAVEN community stepped up with $9,400 in contributions to the central coast Nation’s legal challenge — just shy of our $10k goal. Thank you for making an offering, in the potlatch spirit, of strength and solidarity.

Freeing Heiltsuk from assuming the burden of the immensely costly legal action following the sinking of the Nathan E. Stewart is one way RAVEN is enabling the Nation to invest in community, and in the future. In the Big House ceremony, leaders called people, one by one, to be honoured and wrapped in blankets. These were people who helped, in one way or another, in supporting the Nation to realize their dream of raising a Big House in their home territory.

Please know that you are a part of this tapestry of care and support. We hope you feel the warmth of the gratitude coming from Heiltsuk members for your generosity and faith in their vision.

This week, BC also became the first province in Canada to start a process to formally adopt the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). This is a landmark moment: one we hope will act as a bellwether for the rest of the country, as we transfer the soft talk about reconciliation into solid, foundational legal principles.


UNDRIP requires the informed consent of First Nations when resource projects are proposed in their traditional territories: a step some say goes further than the duty to consult that is guaranteed by Canada’s constitution. Dismantling the structural forces that impede Indigenous Peoples from realizing rights is at the very essence of RAVEN’s work. As in any relationship, consent is an utterly essential component of reciprocity and respect. UNDRIP will undoubtedly enrich dialogue and lead to more nuanced and enduring solutions for everyone who calls BC home.
How this will play out in communities like Bella Bella remains to be seen. But you can be sure that the savvy and sophisticated leaders at the helm in communities RAVEN works in partnership with will be using the framework to uphold their stewardship responsibilities to protect land, air and water for future generations.

The Heiltsuk Big House is a gloriously beautiful edifice that stands at the heart of this Indigenous territory as a place of governance, gathering, and cultural strength. Making UNDRIP part of the law of the land is less tangible but no less profound a manifestation of reconciliation in action. At RAVEN, we’re celebrating you for being part of shifting the paradigm, in big and small ways that will reverberate for generations.

With gratitude,

Susan, Ana, Laurie, Andrea + the RAVEN team

P.s. Those of you who have been with RAVEN over our 10-year history know that moments like this are precious and often hard-won. Want to celebrate more breakthroughs? Join our Circle of Allies as a monthly donor to provide sustainable, foundational support for Indigenous legal challenges.

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