Canada has doubled down on efforts to build a pipeline from the tar sands to the west coast. The plan is to run a pipeline through salmon-bearing streams, parks and Indigenous communities before loading ships with toxic diluted bitumen. The project would mean a 7-fold increase in tanker traffic in the Salish Sea. The resulting carbon bomb from burning the dirtiest oil on the planet would blow past Canada's climate targets, spell extinction for southern resident orca whales, and push the planet past the tipping point.
We can't let this happen.
We're amassing a great wave of resistance. From coast to coast to coast, and in communities everywhere in between, we're calling on water protectors, Indigenous rights activists, climate champions and kick-ass creatives to DONATE, FUNDRAISE, and ORGANIZE to stop TMX.
Sign up to receive an Organizer Toolkit full of tips and tools to engage your network and awaken your community to ways we can all pull together. By mustering the full force of our hearts and minds, we've stopped one pipeline and delayed another by 3 years... and counting....
Who knew stopping a pipeline could be so much fun?
Pull Together: Standing on the shoulders of giants
We launched Pull Together back in 2014 together with seven Nations in British Columbia. People wanting to defend our climate and stand with Indigenous Nations came up with amazing ways to organize, fundraise and donate.
Thanks to you, we raised $700,000 dollars, and built an incredible movement that stopped the Enbridge Northern Gateway project and defeated one of the biggest oil companies on the planet.
Then, with unprecedented solidarity between Indigenous leaders and thousands of Pull Together allies, we raised ANOTHER $700k to back legal challenges that resulted in the Trans Mountain project being delayed.
In the first round of lawsuits, First Nations, environmental groups and municipal governments challenged the original 2016 approval at the Federal Court of Appeal (FCA), and won a decisive victory in August 2018 (the Tsleil-Waututh case). That decision quashed the approvals, and sent the Project back for a redo of the National Energy Board review and constitutionally-required consultation with impacted Indigenous peoples.
The Canadian government — which has spent billions of dollars to buy out Kinder Morgan, since renamed Trans Mountain (TMX) — then embarked on a second round of consultations with First Nations. In June, 2019, Canada re-approved TMX, a move that was swiftly followed by Indigenous Nations filing a fresh set of legal challenges to the project.
Together, RAVEN and Sierra Club BC launched Pull Together: The People vs Trans Mountain.
See a timeline of resistance to the project here:
What is the basis of Indigenous legal challenges and why are their chances of winning so strong?
Together, the legal challenges and arguments raised by Indigenous applicants amount to significant risk that Trans Mountain’s recent approvals will once again be quashed. They suggest that Canada was once again aiming for the floor on consultation, and raise questions about whether the government was simply looking to tick the appropriate boxes before arriving at its predetermined outcome.
Read more :
Why can’t Indigenous Nations carry legal challenges on their own?
Indigenous Nations are clearly prepared to do what it takes to stop TMX. However, legal challenges are expensive. The federal government has deep pockets and will spare no expense in defending its interests, which now include ownership of the existing TransMountain pipeline. It is not unusual for external legal defence funds to be used when parties of lesser means go up against governments or big corporations. While these Indigenous Nations could go it alone, it would mean taking funding from critical community development initiatives and redirecting it into costly litigation. Standing together and pooling resources ensures equitable access to justice and gives Indigenous Nations a much more likely chance of success.
What is the money needed for?
The funds will assist the nations with the costs of preparing evidence, cross-examining witnesses, fighting motions to delay, and building legal arguments.
How is $50 going to help?
It’s simple: every little bit helps. Large numbers of people donating small amounts add up to large sums. The participation of thousands of people from all walks of life creates a groundswell that only keeps growing!
Where does the money go?
The funds are collected and held in trust for the four nations by RAVEN (Respecting Aboriginal Values and Environmental Needs). RAVEN will distribute funds equally between the nations involved. Fifteen per cent of the funds are held to cover the costs of running campaigns like this. As a non-profit, charitable organization, RAVEN issues tax receipts to donors in both Canada and the United States.
Canada's Federal Court of Appeal must grant leave (or permission) to hear the cases. In the meantime, the NEB has weakened some of its conditions at Trans Mountain’s request in order to allow construction at the Burnaby, Edmonton and Sumas terminal sites. Without an injunction or other court order, construction may continue.
Finally, two of the First Nations Applicants (SSN and Shxw’owhamel) had previously filed Aboriginal title cases which could add a whole other dimension to the Trans Mountain saga.
Which organizations are involved in this initiative?
Pull Together is a partnership between RAVEN and Sierra Club BC.
RAVEN exists to level the playing field, providing access to justice for Indigenous Nations so they can access the courts and defend their Constitutional and treaty rights.
Sierra Club BC aims to stop the TransMountain pipeline and defend BC’s south coast from the risk of oil spills. Sierra Club are focusing our efforts on supporting Indigenous Nations’ legal challenges, as we see First Nations standing up for our common future—for the land and water and climate we all depend on.
A special shout-out to Eugene Kung at West Coast Environmental Law, and their summer law students/interns who helped review the thousands of pages of legal documents: Jessie Schwarz, Isabelle Lefroy, Whitney Vicente, Chris Mottershead, and Justin Fishman.
You can support the First Nations legal challenges by donating or organizing a fundraiser at pull-together.ca.
Pull Together is a tangible way individuals, communities and businesses can provide financial support to First Nations legal cases and moral support to everyone on the front lines against this project.