Site C: The BC government must do the right thing
UPDATED MAY 14, 2018
"To our allies, we say, 'keep fighting.' And to those of you just learning about this ruinous decision, don't stand for it...Call, meet, write, email, tweet." - Chief Lynette Tsakoza, Prophet River First Nations
We're at a crucial turning point for the future of the Peace River Valley.
On December 11, BC Premier John Horgan announced that construction of the Site C dam would continue despite his previous acknowledgement that "constitutional rights to practice hunting and fishing" would be "violated by this dam."
Critically, however, the fight to protect the Peace Valley is not over. The West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations have take the federal and provincial governments to court, alleging that flooding the Peace Valley would violate their Constitutionally-protect rights to hunt and fish as guaranteed by their Treaty.
Now, in an amazing victory of principle over politics, the federal government has told the court that it will not oppose the First Nations request to put the project on pause until the court case has been resolved.
Please join these First Nations and their allies in urging the provincial government to follow suit.
Please let BC Premier John Horgan know that it's time for him to live up to his promises to uphold Indigenous rights
Petitions are important and powerful tools for justice. Last year, we were able to deliver more than 120,000 signatures to federal and provincial politicians, which helped keep Site C on the public radar. But now we need to do more.
Individual letters and phone calls can have an even greater impact on governments. The extra effort involved in delivering your own message demonstrates a level of awareness and concern that matters to governments – especially when they are concerned about their own re-election prospects.
Please write a short, courteous but forceful letter to the Premier
- Express your conviction that the Treaty rights of First Nations must be respected.
- Point out the the Premier himself has previously acknowledged that flooding the Peace River Valley would violate rights protected by Treaty 8 and the Canadian Constitution and that this issue have never been addressed or resolved.
- Urge the government to at least ensure that no further harm is done while the issue is still before the courts.
- Tell the Premier that you want him to follow the federal government's example and withdraw all objections to the First Nations request for a temporary injunction to protect the Peace Valley.
In addition to sending an email, or sending a letter by post, you are also encouraged to phone the Premier's office and leave a message.
Premier John Horgan
PO Box 9041
STN PROV GOVT
Victoria, BC V8W 9E1
In addition to writing the Premier, please cc your letter - or write a separate letter - to Green Party leader:
Dr. Andrew Weaver:
PHONE: (250) 387-8347
FAX: (250) 387-8338
Victoria, BC V8V 1X4
Finally, be sure to share messages of solidarity and support for the ongoing struggle to save the Peace River Valley by using the hashtag #WithThePeaceRiver
Three reasons why the BC government must stop Site C
- The social and environmental impacts will be devastating.
Because of the massive scale of other resource development in northeast BC, including mining, logging and oil and gas development, the Peace River Valley is one of the few remaining places in the region where Indigenous peoples can still practice their cultures and traditions. Flooding the Peace River Valley will have a devastating impact on First Nations hunting, fishing and the gathering of berries and plant medicines. These are activities that are central to Indigenous identity and which continue to play a crucial role in the health and sustence of Dunne-Zaa and Cree families in northeast BC. The government-appointed environmental impact assessment concluded that the impacts would be severe, permanent and irreversible. This is in addition to the destruction of grave and numerous cultural sites dating back hundreds and thousands of years, as well as the loss of small farms that have been maintained for generations.
- There’s no justification for this needless destruction.
The province needs to invest in the long term needs of the people of northeast BC where social services and infrastructure have been neglected for too long. The SIte C dam is simply not the way to do it. Last year, a government-appointed economic review concluded that even with the money already spent on Site C, continued construction offers little or no financial benefit to the province when compared with other, less destructive alternatives. Furthermore, in some scenarios, halting Site C could actually mean a considerable saving for the province, freeing up potential for more sustain investments in the province's future. Either way, it's clear that the destruction of Indigenous land and livelihoods is unnecessary and that the province could benefit Indigenous and non-Indigenous people alike through a new strategy for energy conservation and development.
- Completing the Site C dam would be a blow to reconciliation with First Nations.
There’s good reason why international human rights standards, including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, require the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous peoples on serious decisions such as resource development on their territories. History tells us that if Indigenous peoples don’t have a real seat at the table, their rights will be swept aside. This is exactly what happened with the approval of the Site C dam. The federal and provincial governments have acknowledged that they never even considered whether the dam was compatible with their Treaty obligations, despite the many serious concerns expressed by Treaty 8 First Nations. Approval of the project under these circumstances was unjust. Allowing the decision to stand would be a further injustice. In contrast, stopping Site C is an important opportunity to send a message to all British Columbians and all Canadians that the lives, cultures and economies of First Nations matter.
We have lots of compelling, accessible information on why Site C must be stopped. Start here:
witnessforthepeace.ca: a new website dedicated to public information about this crucial court case/
"The Point of No Return": Amnesty's 2016 report on the Site C dam
"Out of Sight, Out of Mind": Amnesty's case study on the hidden economic and social cost of current resource development in northeast BC
An open letter to the government of John Horgan, signed by the Prophet River and West Moberly First Nations, Amnesty International and many others