The Pull Together Relaunch with Sarah Harmer & Friends was just the jolt of inspiration and good vibes that we needed to kick-start Phase II of the amazing Pull Together campaign.

DSC_6465In the newly restored York Theater in East Vancouver, 350 people came together to celebrate the campaign that has become a grassroots organizing triumph. In just a few months, a remarkable convergence of allies – First Nations, environmentalists, concerned citizens and conscious businesses – collectively raised $350,000. The goal? To put a stop to the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and tanker project by supporting seven nations’ legal actions. The evening was a chance for those who had been working in solidarity on the Pull Together campaign to meet face to face, and to renew our commitments to raising the next $250K and protecting this beautiful land.

Audience member Trish Boyem echoed the sentiments of many when she said the night was “One of the most extraordinary evenings we’ve ever had the honour of taking part in!”

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It was clear this wasn’t your usual shindig when, at the pre-show gala, bannock with wild salmon and saskatoon berries was passed around. People nibbled at freshly minted “Pull Together” Denman Island Chocolate bars branded with the slogan, “Who knew stopping a pipeline could be so delicious?” Also arrayed around the lobby were some very special silent auction items, including art prints by Robert Bateman and Franke James, passes and tickets to festivals and summertime events, and fine artisanal weavings and jewellery. Guests from as far up the coast as Bella Bella and Haida Gwaii got to mingle with the evening’s headliners, Sarah Harmer and Hugh Christopher Brown, who flew in from Toronto to show their support for the campaign.

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Raven Trust & Sierra Club BC host First Nations leaders & great artists

When we took our seats in the packed theatre, we were welcomed to unceded coast Salish territory by Tsleil Waututh hosts, and filled in on the incredible impact this campaign has been having to strengthen the resolve of First Nations to resist pipelines and tankers. Chris Brown and Sarah Harmer shared a new track they are recording, “Ravensong”, which they have dedicated to raising awareness and funds for First Nations legal challenges.

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The night featured speakers from many of the nations participating in Pull Together. First to take the stage was an emotional Chief Marilyn Slett, elected chief of Heiltsuk Nation. “I’m overwhelmed,” she said. “To come here and see so many people in support of our legal action, it is just overwhelming.”

 

Goosebump moments continued when Old Massett’s Kristi Lane Sinclair took to the stage with her band. The Haida/Cree folk musician moved the audience with a powerful mix of folk, grunge and classical arrangements. During the set, Sinclair called up members of the Git Hayetsk Dance group. In full regalia from Nations throughout unceded territory stretching to Alaska, the dancers brought Sinclair’s stories of hope, loss, and resilience into living colour.

 

{ click through images to view Git Hayetsk Dancers gallery }

 

The Git Hayetsk — People of the Copper Shield — dancers went on to share an incredible series of songs and dances from traditions both ancient and contemporary. They began their set by blowing fine white bird down through the air: their entire performance took place within a  swirl of soft, snow-like feathers. A multi-generational, pan-First Nations ensemble, the Git Hayetsk Dancers wowed the crowd with powerful drumming and poignant choreography. Their performances are devoted not only to preserving ancient cultural traditions but enlivening and carrying on new forms of expression that encompass the contemporary circumstances of indigenous people.

 

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Members of the Git Hayetsk “People of the Copper Shield” Dancers

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Peter Lantin, president of the Council of the Haida Nation, picked up the theme of the evening, saying, “What’s happening here is just an unbelievable level of support. What blows my mind here is the scale: where it can go and where it could end up is unprecedented. I’m blown away by the momentum of what Pull Together is going to build for us.

It’s beyond words how we appreciate what BC and Canadians are doing to help stand beside us in our fight.”

 

Sarah Harmer took the stage as the finale performer and, from the very first chord, wrapped the audience in her warm embrace. Her songs were both deeply personal and ardently political.  Harmer’s extraordinarily versatile voice covers wide emotional territory, from growling blues to soaring, hope-filled anthems. Fans sang along to “I’m a Mountain” and sat mesmerized through songs old and new from her five acclaimed albums. As she prepared to share her encore piece, Harmer, too, had words of encouragement for the audience of activists and justice-seekers. She commented that while the challenges seem insurmountable at times,  “holding it together” is made a lighter job when we know that we are holding it, all together.

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Thank you to everyone that organized, spoke, performed, donated, participated in silent auction, and attended! Words like inspirational, powerful and magical echoed through the lobby as people made their way outside. It was soul stirring and heart warming to be all pulling together.

 

“With the feeling in the room, we go home empowered after tonight,” said Peter Lantin. “And we go down into the trenches and we continue the fight. Pulling together is really giving us hope: that has more value than anything.

How can you not feel like you’re going to win?”

Get pulling! To organize your own Pull Together event, to donate, or to set up your own online fundraiser using our crowdfunding platform, visit https://pull-together.ca/information/

 

 

 

 

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