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Site C Dam

    August 03, 2017

    Yesterday, the newly elected government of British Columbia sent the Site C dam to the provincial utilities commission for a long overdue review of whether or not the destructive $8.8 billion-plus mega-project is necessary and economically viable.

    In announcing the review, Energy Minister Michelle Mungall told the provincial legislature that a final decision on whether the project is allowed to proceed will be based on this review “along with other environmental and First Nations considerations.”

    Craig Benjamin of Amnesty International Canada said, “It’s crucial to remember that the Site C dam was pushed ahead without ever addressing the crucial question of whether it would violate the Treaty rights of First Nations in the Peace River region. A series of court cases left the matter unresolved, putting it back in the hands of politicians to do their duty to protect the Constitutionally-protected rights of Indigenous peoples. We welcome this latest indication that the province of BC is now prepared to uphold this essential legal and moral obligation.”

    June 29, 2017

    Amnesty International is deeply concerned by the announcement that the Supreme Court of Canada will not consider a further appeal of a First Nations challenge to the Site C dam.

    The West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations had asked that federal approval of the megaproject be overturned because the decision was made without first considering whether the harm that will be done by the dam would violate Canada’s Treaty obligations. 

    In earlier decisions, the Federal Court and the Federal Court of Appeal had concluded that the provisions of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act meant that the federal Cabinet had no obligation to consider First Nations concerns over Treaty violations before approving the project – even though Treaty rights are protected in Canadian Constitution and international law.

    April 20, 2017
    Sign in the Peace Valley shows potential flooding impact of the Site C dam

    Two things need to be said up front about British Columbia’s Site C dam.

    The first is that flooding more than 100km of the Peace River Valley and its tributaries will be profoundly harmful to lives and well-being of Indigenous peoples in northeast BC, which is why there has been such strong opposition to the dam from Treaty 8 First Nations.

    The Peace River Valley is a unique ecosystem supporting plants and animal populations crucial to Cree and Dene-Zaa cultural traditions. It is also the location of countless graves and historic sites. On top of that, the valley is also one of the few remaining areas in the northeast that have been largely protected from the impacts of pervasive resource development in the region.

    The independent panel that conducted the environmental assessment of Site C on behalf of the federal and provincial governments called these impacts severe, permanent and irreversible.

    April 13, 2017

    On May 9th, a provincial election will be held in British Columbia. Amnesty International  is urging all candidates to make clear public commitments to closing crucial gaps in oversight, accountability, and service delivery that jeopardize the safety, health and well-being of many British Columbians and undermine human rights protection in the province.

    We need your help! We're asking all our supporters in British Columbia to help us ensure that human rights are part of this election.

    Here's how: 

    1. Learn more 

    Amnesty International has issued an open letter to all candidates in this election outlining our concerns, including:

    January 24, 2017

    This week's Federal Court of Appeal decision leaves unanswered the critical question of whether the construction of the Site C hydro-electric dam in northeast British Columbia violates the Constitutionally-protected Treaty rights of the First Nations who live in and depend on the Peace River Valley.

    The court accepted the federal government’s argument that, because the Canadian Environmental Act doesn’t explicitly require consideration of Treaty rights, it was “reasonable” to approve the project without first determining whether it would cause unjustifiable harm to the exercise of these rights.

    If the decision stands, it has the potential to set a dangerous precedent for rights protection in Canada as it effectively allows the terms of an individual piece of legislation to trump wider Constitutional rights protections.

    November 23, 2016

    Join Amnesty International supporters around the world on International Human Rights Day for our global campaign Write for Rights, and protect Indigenous rights in the Peace River valley!

    The proposed $8 billion plus Site C hydroelectric dam would flood more than 80 km of the river valley, stretching west from Fort St. John. The severe impact on Indigenous peoples is beyond dispute. A joint federal-province environmental impact assessment concluded that the dam would “severely undermine” use of the land, would make fishing unsafe for at least a generation, and would submerge burial grounds and other crucial cultural and historical sites.

    Here are some ways you can stand with Indigenous peoples of the Peace River valley against the Site C dam:

     

    1. Send a solidarity message or photograph

    Rising Waters photo action:

    September 13, 2016
    Group of people hold banners at Rally for the Peace River

    On September 13th, Amnesty International members and supporters joined with community members from Treaty 8 First Nations to rally on Parliament Hill in Ottawa against the construction of the Site C dam.

    The $8 billion plus Site C dam project would flood more than 80 km of the Peace River Valley. In 2014, the federal and provincial governments approved construction of the dam despite the fact that their own environmental impact assessment process found it would cause severe, permanent and irreparable harm to First Nations' use of traditional lands and the destruction of gravesites and other sites of unique cultural and historical significance. 


    Craig Benjamin of Amnesty International speaks at the Rally for the Peace River

    September 05, 2016

    On September 12, the Federal Court of Appeal in Montreal will hear the latest legal challenge to the massive Site C hydroelectric dam already under construction on Treaty 8 territory in northeast British Columbia.

    First Nations community members from Treaty 8 are setting out today to travel by bus across Canada to focus attention of the importance of this case to the rights of all treaty nations and to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promised new relationship with First Nations.

    The Justice for the Peace caravan is endorsed by the Assembly of First Nations British Columbia, the First Nations Leadership Summit, and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.

    September 01, 2016

    On Monday morning, community members from the Treaty 8 territory in northeast BC set out on an historic a cross-country journey to focus public attention on their urgent struggle for justice for their people and for the Peace River Valley.

    When a federal-provincial environmental assessment concluded that the Site C hydro-electric dam would cause severe, permanent and irreversible harm to the culture and traditions of Indigenous peoples in the Peace Valley, the federal and provincial government should have put the project on hold and looked for alternatives. They didn’t.

    The federal and provincial governments didn’t even stop to examine whether building the dam over Indigenous opposition would be consistent with their legal obligations under Treaty 8.

    May 25, 2016

    By Craig Benjamin

    The president of Royal Society of Canada – a national association of Canada scholars – has written to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to urge the government to "step back" from the Site C hydro-electric project. It's reported that this is the first time in decades that the Royal Society has taken a public position in opposition to a specific project.

    The letter states that government approval of the Site C dam – despite numerous serious concerns identified in the environmental impact assessment process – "goes against the Canadian government emphasis on evidence-based decision-making."

    The letter also condemns the failure to uphold the Treaty rights of First Nations in the Peace River region, stating, "That is not the blueprint for Canada in the twenty-first century, especially given Canada's recent decision to support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Work on the Site C project should be discontinued for this reason alone."

    April 14, 2016

    “We are inspired and deeply honoured to have the support of so many individuals in our fight to stop the proposed Site C Dam."  - Chief Roland Willson of the West Moberly First Nations

    West Moberly is one of the First Nations in the Treaty 8 region of northeastern BC that vigorously objected to the Site C dam through the environmental assessment review process. The report of that independent review set out a clear case against the dam, including the irreversible harm that it will cause to one of the few remaining areas where West Moberly and other First Nations can exercise their rights, the destruction of hundreds of cultural sites, and the province's failure to properly other, less harmful alternatives. 

    February 29, 2016

    “I will get it past the point of no return.” -  BC Premier Christy Clark on the Site C dam

    Efforts to defend the rights of Indigenous peoples in the Peace Valley of British Columbia took a worrying turn today.

    A BC Court has ordered a group called the Treaty 8 Stewards of the Land to leave their culture camp at an historic site on the Peace River. 

    Since January 1 of this year, the culture camp has been the only thing standing in the way of BC Hydro’s plans to log the valley floor in preparation of construction of the Site C dam.

    It’s expected that BC Hydro will now move quickly to clear cut large areas of old growth and other unique forest habitat of critical importance to the cultures and way of life of Indigenous peoples of Indigenous peoples in the region.

    A number of organizations are calling on their supporters to join this timely rally at BC Hydro headquarters in Vancouver. 

    The Peace River Valley in northeastern British Columbia is a unique ecosystem and one of the very few areas in the region that so far has been largely preserved from large-scale resource development. First Nations and Métis families and communities rely on the valley for hunting and fishing, gathering berries and sacred medicine, and holding ceremonies. Their ancestors are buried in this land.

    The proposed $8 billion plus Site C hydroelectric dam would flood more than 80 km of the river valley, stretching west from Fort St. John. The severe impact on Indigenous peoples is beyond dispute. A joint federal-province environmental impact assessment concluded that the dam would “severely undermine” use of the land, would make fishing unsafe for at least a generation, and would submerge burial grounds and other crucial cultural and historical sites.

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