Pull Together—a partnership of Sierra Club BC, RAVEN Trust, and Force of Nature—mobilized grassroots community support for the legal challenges brought forth by the Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish, Stk’emlupsemc Te Secwepemc and Coldwater Nations, which are challenging the National Energy Board (NEB) review and the Canadian federal government’s approval of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline and tankers project.
This report was written by Sierra Club BC for sharing on our website.
They argue the government’s decision infringes their Aboriginal title and rights and that Canada breached its duty to consult and accommodate. Legal challenges are expensive; and it is neither right nor just that these nations alone should shoulder the burden of litigation—not when we (and our climate) all stand to benefit from a court decision in their favour. With the support of the Catherine Donnelly Foundation, this project provided direct support to First Nations opposing fossil fuel infrastructure for which they did not give consent: thus far we have raised $679,371, which will directly pay for legal fees for the Tsleil-Waututh, Coldwater, Stk’emlupsemc Te Secwepemc and Squamish Nations*.
This project recognizes climate justice and reconciliation require more than simply standing beside First Nations in solidarity, it means following their lead, and giving something of oneself in service to others: providing allyship and support for nations speaking up to protect their territories and cultures. Using distributed organizing and story-based communications, Pull Together inspired unlikely allies to make donations and host solidarity events to raise funds and public support for the Indigenous nations defending in court their lands and waters.
Moral and financial support for the nations was achieved through more than 100 community-based events, 131 online fundraisers, involving dozens of businesses and organizations, poignant social media and website communications, and effective recruitment and support for local organizers (toolkits, coaching, materials, media support).
Community events included everything from film screenings, barbecue fundraisers and dance halls to yoga seminars and drum-making workshops, from the Gulf Islands north to Haida Gwaii, across the country to Montreal!
To scale beyond Sierra Club BC’s network of engaged citizens, the campaign takes a distributed organizing approach, in which Sierra Club BC staff educate, train and mobilize members of the public to step into leadership roles, raising awareness within their communities about the cultural/ecological values at stake and the importance of First Nations-led legal challenges.
Pull Together has proven how hungry people are for actions of meaningful reconciliation. By taking a ‘mainstream’ approach to outreach, sectors of the community not currently engaged in the struggle for climate justice are given practical options to participate. Compelling, story-based communications amplified Indigenous voices and underscored reconciliation as key to climate justice. Pull Together events and fundraisers also provide the public with an opportunity to think about the ways we work, the ways we live and our values for the future, further strengthening the narrative around the tangibility of post-carbon solutions, how they contribute to sustainable economies and vibrant communities.
Pull Together has also reinforced that while protecting our climate, defending the coast, and respecting Indigenous rights is serious (the values under threat are crucial for sustaining cultures and livelihoods), in the end, it’s how we come together to protect these values which builds and celebrates community. When we pull together, we form the strong communities of resistance required to face governments and corporations forcing tar sands infrastructure and risk upon non-consenting First Nations and communities. This project develops alliances between non-Indigenous community members and First Nations, increasing respect for Indigenous rights and strengthening our ability to work together for the long-term.