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Site C Dam

    September 18, 2018

    More than one year after the United Nations' top anti-racism body raised serious concerns in its review of Canada’s track record, the Trudeau government has missed a key reporting deadline and has failed entirely to make any progress in implementing most of the recommendations that the Committee had prioritized for urgent action, warns Amnesty International Canada.

    “It is deeply concerning that not only has Canada missed a key deadline to report back on four urgent recommendations prioritized by the Committee, but little or nothing has been done to address these glaringly discriminatory areas of Canadian policy and practice highlighted by the Committee over a year ago. This includes continued construction of the Site C dam despite brazen violations of Indigenous rights; failure to ensure justice and accountability for the Mount Polley mining disaster; and continued refusal to suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement, jeopardizing the rights of refugees,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada.     

    July 11, 2018

    An appeal for action from Maude Barlow, Alex Neve and Grand Chief Stewart Phillip from Witness for the Peace 

    In just a few days, a B.C. court will begin hearings on one of the most important legal challenges of our time.

    The court case — initiated by the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations — may be British Columbia’s best hope for stopping the massively destructive and wasteful Site C dam.

    A vital, irreplaceable cultural and ecological landscape is at stake. But the legal challenge to Site C is about more than the fate of the Peace River Valley. Fundamental issues of human rights and reconciliation are also at stake.

    The federal and provincial governments have already admitted that they deliberately ignored their Treaty rights obligations when they decided to flood the Peace Valley. Such blatant disregard for the rights of Indigenous peoples has no place in any country genuinely committed to reconciliation.

    June 21, 2018

    Earlier today, I decided to mark Indigenous Peoples Day by making a donation to support the First Nations legal struggle to stop the massively destructive Site C dam in northeast BC.

    I’ve had the pleasure of travelling many times to Treaty 8 territory and I’ve become a passionate supporter of the efforts of First Nations and farmers to save the beautiful, irreplaceable Peace River Valley.

    But there was another reason I wanted to support this legal challenge. It has to do what Truth and Reconciliation Commission Chair, Senator Murray Sinclair has called “the War of Law.”

    To me this powerful phrase invokes not only laws that are harmful in their intent and purpose  - of which there have been many – but all the ways that the law is applied in a discriminatory and unequal manner, with often devastating impacts.

    June 13, 2018

    West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations have been forced to launch a court case to protect the Peace River Valley from the destructive Site C dam and uphold their Treaty Rights. By pledging to be a “Witness for the Peace”,  you are letting  the government know that you want them to uphold their Treaty obligations and that you care about  what they argue in court on behalf of the "public interest". Site C Tabling  Resources Included.

    May 14, 2018

    Indigenous peoples’ organizations and social justice groups are welcoming the news that the federal government will not oppose a First Nations court application to suspend construction of the Site C dam.

    “The impact of the Site C dam on First Nations Treaty rights must be addressed before it’s too late,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. “Now that the federal government has done the right thing, and helped cleared the way for an injunction to be granted, Premier Horgan absolutely must ensure that the province and BC Hydro do the same. Anything less would make a mockery of the province’s commitments to reconciliation and respect for the rights of Indigenous peoples.”

    The West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations have launched a civil suit alleging that flooding the Peace River Valley would violate rights protected in Treaty 8. West Moberly has asked the court to grant an injunction to protect the valley while the matter is before the courts.

    May 11, 2018

    UPDATE: The federal government has decided not to oppose the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations while they seek an injunction to suspend construction of the Site C dam in British Columbia while important, unresolved Treaty rights concerns are before the courts. We're urging Premier John Horgan to follow this example. You can learn more about this vital test case for Indigenous rights at a new website launched with coalition partners: www.witnessforthepeace.ca

    The federal government ignored a direct question about the Site C dam and Treaty rights violations during a review of Canada’s human rights record earlier today at the United Nations in Geneva.

    May 08, 2018

    First Nations and human rights groups are questioning why lawyers for the government of BC and BC Hydro wanted to exclude important evidence about the Site C dam from an injunction hearing set to begin this July.

    First Nations are seeking an injunction to halt destruction of their homelands by the Site C dam until the courts can finally address whether the dam should be cancelled for violating the Treaty rights of the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations.

    In an oral judgment made on April 24 and publicly posted yesterday, the Supreme Court of British Columbia allowed applications by BC Hydro and the province to exclude some of the evidence First Nations had submitted for the injunction hearing, including sworn statements from Marc Eliesen, the former president and CEO of BC Hydro, and Harry Swain, who was the chair of the joint review panel for the project’s environmental assessment.

    May 07, 2018

    Organizations call for suspension of Site C dam; new website launches to monitor court challenge

    “The fundamental issue is First Nations in the region have entrenched constitutional rights… to practice hunting and fishing as before, and that’s going to be violated by this dam.” - John Horgan, May 8, 2014

    "People shouldn’t have to go to court to claim their rights." – federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett, speaking at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, April 2018

    The federal and provincial cabinets must support an immediate halt to the destructive Site C Dam while the crucial and still unresolved Treaty rights challenge is before the courts. Canada and BC must also act in good faith during this court case in a way that is in line with their commitments to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

    OPEN LETTER TO THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA AND THE PROVINCE OF BRITISH COLUMBIA

    January 23, 2018

    In a strongly worded open letter to British Columbia Premier John Horgan, Amnesty International is urging the province not to fail the Indigenous peoples of the Peace River Valley a second time. The organization characterizes the Premier’s approval and rationale for the continued construction of the Site C dam as an abdication of his government’s fundamental responsibility to uphold the human rights of all without discrimination. Now that the Prophet River and West Moberly First Nations have launched a new legal challenge to the dam, Amnesty is calling on the province to ensure that its response is consistent with BC’s human rights obligations, including by ensuring irreversible construction activities are deferred or suspended until the legal challenge is resolved.

    December 12, 2017
    Yellow stakes expressing support for Treaty rights

    “The fundamental issue is First Nations in the region have entrenched constitutional rights. Not just the requirement for consultation and accommodation, which we always hear about when we’re talking about resource projects. But they have entrenched constitutional rights to practice hunting and fishing as before, And that’s going to be violated by this dam.” - John Horgan, May 8, 2014

    In announcing his government's decision to allow continued construction of a mega-project he once opposed, BC Premier John Horgan said that construction was already past "the point of no return." That's blatently false. Here's why:

    December 11, 2017

    Amnesty International today expressed outrage over the decision by BC Premier John Horgan to allow continued construction of the Site C dam despite the devastating impact it will have on Indigenous peoples in the Peace River Valley.

    Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, said today,  "Today's decision is appalling and indefensible. We are truly shocked at the callous disregard for the rights and well-being of Indigenous peoples, despite the Premier’s acknowledgement of what is at stake."

    Neve said, “The Premier knew coming into office that flooding the Peace River Valley would be profoundly destructive for the Dunne-Za and Cree peoples whose histories and cultures are inseparable from that land. He has even acknowledged that construction of the Site C dam would violate Canada’s legal obligations under Treaty 8. The fact that he would allow the destruction of the Peace River Valley despite such serious concerns is a blatant betrayal of his government’s commitments to uphold the rights of Indigenous peoples, including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

    November 02, 2017

    The Site C dam is a project that should never have been approved. As the British Columbia Utilities Commission has now concluded after a long overdue review of the cost and purpose of this project, completing Site C offers little or no economic benefit compared to less destructive alternatives and could ultimately cost much more and carry greater financial and legal risks. Completing the construction is, quite simply, bad public policy.

    More than that, however, the Site C dam represents a profound betrayal of the solemn commitments undertaken when Canada entered into Treaty 8, when it adopted its Constitution, and when it endorsed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

    October 31, 2017

    As Horgan Government Weighs Fate of the Megaproject, Treaty 8 Indigenous First Nations, Human Rights and Environmental Groups Bring a Message That Canadians and the World Expect BC to Keep Its Promise to Uphold Indigenous Rights

    At 1:00 p.m. on November 2nd, representatives from Treaty 8 First Nations, human rights and environmental groups will present a literal “boat load” of petitions, postcards and solidarity messages urging the Provincial Government to protect the Peace River Valley. Across the country, more than 120,000 people have called for a halt to construction of the Site C dam. Their voices are joined by tens of thousands of solidarity messages from around the world.

    The megaproject would flood more 100 km stretch of the Peace River Valley and its tributaries. If construction proceeds, Treaty 8 First Nations would lose hunting grounds, burial sites and other areas vitally significant to their culture, heritage and sustenance.

    September 22, 2017

    The BC Utility Commission’s interim report on the Site C megaproject – released on Wednesday – provides further proof that the federal and provincial governments acted irresponsibly when they granted approval for construction of the massively destructive dam.

    “The interim BCUC report confirms what so many of us have been saying all along: there’s simply no credible rationale for the devastating harm that would be caused by the flooding of the Peace River Valley,” said Chief Roland Willson of the West Moberly First Nations.

    In its interim report, the BCUC said that it did not have enough information yet to offer a conclusion on the costs of continuing construction versus suspending or cancelling the project. However, the report does set out a number of concerns about how BC Hydro is forecasting future energy needs. The interim report also states that if greater capacity is actually needed in the future, alternative sources such as biomass, geothermal and solar need to be considered. The report noted that information provided by BC Hydro reflects an “implicit assumption” that Site C is the only option that would be pursued.

    September 22, 2017

    By: Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada

    On Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the UN General Assembly that Canada is prepared to learn “the difficult lessons” of its long history of mistreatment of Indigenous Peoples and, as a result, other countries have much to learn from Canada’s example.

    “We know that the world expects Canada to strictly adhere to international human rights standards including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – and that’s what we expect of ourselves too,” is how he framed the imperative. 

    Ironically, the prime minister’s presentation to the General Assembly came less than a month after the UN’s top anti-racism body sharply rebuked his government for dodging its responsibilities to Indigenous Peoples, even as immediate action is urgently needed.

    Read Alex's full OPED in the Ottawa Citizen.

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