Site C: The BC government must do the right thing
"Reconciliation could start here, today, with the cancellation of the Site C dam," Chief Roland Willson, West Moberly First Nations, on the steps of the BC Legislature, November 1, 2017
The fate of the Peace River Valley hangs in the balance.
In the coming weeks, the British Columbia government will make a decision whether to finally halt construction of the massively destructive Site C dam.
Premier John Horgan has already made important commitments to uphold the human rights of Indigenous peoples.
The Premier has also acknowledged that the Site C dam’s impact on the Treaty rights of the Dunne-Za and Cree peoples has never been properly addressed.
If the Premier intends to keep his promise to uphold Indigenous rights, he must stop Site C so that First Nations cultures and traditions can be respected and protected.
Unfortunately, that there is still enormous pressure on the province to allow the construction of the $8 billion dam to continue, regardless of the consequences.
This is a crucial moment to let the provincial government know that the West Moberly and Prophet River FIrst Nations are not alone in demanding the protection of the Peace River Valley
Tens of thousands of Canadians have already spoken out in support of Indigenous rights and the protection of the Peace River Valley. On November 2, Amnesty International worked with West Moberly, Prophet River and many other partners to deliver more than 120,000 signatures to the BC government saying, No Site C.
Now we need your help to send an even stronger message.
Please let BC Premier John Horgan know that you stand with First Nations in calling for an end to the Site C dam
Petitions are important and powerful tools for justice. But 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 letter to the Premier
- welcoming his government’s important and postive commitments to respect Indigenous rights and
- explaining in your own words why it’s crucial that the BC government keep these promises by stopping Site C.
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
You are encouraged to draw on the arguments below.
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. On November 1, 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:
"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