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Site C Dam

    August 09, 2018

     9 August 2018

    The Honourable David Eby
    Attorney General
    PO Box 9044 Stn Prov Govt
    Victoria, BC V8W 9E2
    By fax: 250 387-6411  and by email

    Dear Attorney General Eby,

    Amnesty International strongly agrees with and supports the Union of BC Indian Chiefs’ August 7th Open Letter in which their executive called on your government to denounce and formally apologize for the harmful and disrespectful arguments being made by BC Hydro in the current court hearings about the Site C dam.

    This massively destructive mega-project was approved without prior determination of whether flooding the Peace River Valley would violate rights protected in Treaty 8, as was consistently stated by First Nations throughout the review process. In such a context, it is unconscionable that First Nations have been forced to take on the onerous burden on launching a civil suit just to have their Constitutionally-protected rights properly addressed.

    July 27, 2018

    As a BC court considers whether to grant an injunction to halt construction of the Site C dam, arguments by BC government lawyers threaten far reaching negative consequences, warns Amnesty International.

    “The legal tactics being employed by the BC government amount to a complete disregard for the rights of Indigenous peoples in favour of building Site C at all costs,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International. “Not only would these cynical legal tactics deny First Nations the opportunity for a just resolution of the still unaddressed question of Treaty rights violations, the province’s position is brazenly at odds with the Premier’s repeated public commitments to reconciliation and respect for the rights of Indigenous peoples.” 

    The application for the injunction was filed by the West Moberly First Nation. West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations have launched a civil suit arguing that flooding the Peace Valley will prevent the meaningful exercise of Treaty protected rights. Hearings with respect to that civil suit are not expected to get underway until the  fall.

    July 26, 2018

    “A B.C. government, led by me, will officially adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples…I will work with you to align the actions of my government with the Declaration.” – NDP leader John Horgan, prior to the 2017 provincial election

    “It is well established that statements by elected representatives do not fetter decision makers, nor do political speeches constitute legally enforceable promises against the Crown.” – the Government of British Columbia’s written submission to the Site C injunction hearing

    BC Premier John Horgan has said many fine words about upholding the rights of Indigenous peoples. He made these promises while running for office and he has repeatedly affirmed them since becoming Premier. But in the most significant test to date of the veracity and integrity of these commitments -- the arguments now being made in front of the crucially important Site C injunction hearing -- Premier Horgan’s government has done the very opposite of what it promised.

    May 14, 2018

    UPDATED July 10, 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.

    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

    April 26, 2018

    "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

    In the coming weeks, two governments that have repeatedly promised to uphold the rights of Indigenous peoples will be in court to defend a massively destructive resource development project that they approved without ever once considering whether it would violate Canada’s Treaty obligations to the affected First Nations.

    The West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations are asking the court to halt construction of the Site C dam which would flood more than 100 km of the Peace River Valley and its tributaries. 

    The environmental assessment of the project found that its impacts on First Nations cultural sites and way of life would be serve, permanent and irreversible. The United Nations’ top anti-racism body, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, has called for a halt to the project as a violation of the rights of Indigenous peoples.

    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:

    October 27, 2017

    One of the first acts of the recently elected provincial government of British Columbia was to order an independent review of the economic case for and against the massive Site C hydro-electric project. After releasing an interim report in September, the BC Utilities Commission held a series of public meetings across the province. The final report is due November 1 after which the decision on the fate of the project - and the Peace River Valley - will rest with the provincial government.

    Gary Ockenden, the Vice President of Amnesty International Canada shared this note from a hearing that he attended:

    The Chair and three Commissioners of the BC Utilities Commission came to Nelson, BC on September 26th and held a public hearing on the Site C project. I was fortunate enough to get a five minute slot to present to them as a BC ratepayer.

    September 21, 2017

    “Canada is built on the ancestral land of Indigenous peoples but regrettably it is also a country that came into being without the meaningful participation of those who were there first. And even where Treaties had been formed to provide a basis for proper relations, they have not been fully honoured or implemented.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressing the UN General Assembly the day after an interim report on the Site C dam was released

    “The joint federal-provincial environmental impact assessment of the Site C dam was clear that flooding the Peace River Valley would destroy hundreds of graves and other cultural sites and cause severe, permanent and irreversible harm to the natural environment on which we rely. All this was pushed aside in the rush to build Site C.” Prophet River Chief Lynette Tsakoza responding to the Site C interim report

    Three years ago, the federal government approved one of the most environmentally destructive resource development projects in Canada, over the opposition of profoundly affected First Nations.

    August 14, 2017
    Robyn Fuller


    by Robyn Fuller   Presentation to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, 14 August 2017   Good morning,    When I was a young girl the elders of my people the Dunne zatalked about a Prophecy.    A Prophecy of four dams that were to be built on the Peace River.   In the 1950’s the B.C government started looking at the Peace River as a potential site to build four Dams Site A, Site B, Site C, and Site D. In 1961 construction of Site A, now known as the W.A.C Bennett Dam was started. It was finished in 1968.  
    August 11, 2017

    First Nations from the Peace River Valley are asking the United Nations’ top anti-racism body to help defend their Treaty rights from the impact of the Site C dam.

    Robyn Fuller, a councillor from the West Moberly First Nation, is travelling to Geneva next week to speak to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination when the expert body carries out its regular review of Canada’s human rights record.

    Fuller said, “We’re frankly sick of hearing about the Canadian government going to the UN and bragging about its human rights record when our rights are being violated on a daily basis. The Site C dam will devastate a crucial natural environment on which we depend for our culture and way of life. When the government turns its back on the harm that Site C causing, the government is blatantly violating our Treaty and Canada’s international human rights obligations and should be held accountable.”

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