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Federal government faces growing calls to halt Site C dam

    February 11, 2016

    Organizations from across Canada are urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take immediate action to halt construction of the Site C dam in north-eastern British Columbia

    In an open letter released today, more than 25 organizations, including Amnesty International, the David Suzuki Foundation, and Sierra Club BC, denounced the project for violation of rights protected under Treaty 8, the Canadian Constitution, and international human rights law.

    Although promoted by the government of BC as a “clean” source of renewable energy, the joint federal-provincial environmental impact assessment panel concluded that the Site C dam would severely and permanently undermine Indigenous peoples’ use of the land and destroy important cultural sites and a unique ecosystem.

    “As we said in the letter, this is not just another resource development project,” said Candace Batycki, spokesperson for the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, one of the signatory organizations. “The Site C dam is one of the largest resource development projects underway in Canada and its impact on the environment and local First Nations will be severe.  Given the review panel’s findings, it’s alarming that it was approved in the first place.”

    The letter calls on the federal government to rescind all permits related to the construction of the dam and to review the previous government’s decision to approve the project despite its impact on Treaty rights.

    Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians said, “Prime Minister Trudeau and his government made a clear public commitment to building a new relationship with Indigenous peoples based on respect for the Treaties, the Constitution, and international human rights law. If it intends to keep that promise, the federal government needs to take immediate, decisive action on Site C.”

    Jennifer Henry, Executive Director of KAIROS said, “Reconciliation requires a definitive change from the treatment of Indigenous peoples that has already caused so much harm. As Canadians concerned about social justice and the environment, we are calling on Prime Minister Trudeau and his government to make it clear that respect for Treaty rights will not be sacrificed.”

    Joe Foy, Wilderness Committee, said, “During the recent climate change negotiations in Paris, Canada was clear that ‘clean energy’ requires respect for both human rights and the environment. We’re asking that they put these principles into practice at home.”

    Read the letter

    For media inquiries, please contact:

    Elizabeth Berton-Hunter
    Media Relations,
    Amnesty International Canada
    416-363-9933 ext 332

    Joe Foy
    National Campaign Director,
    Wilderness Committee
    604-880-2580 (cell)
    604-683-8220 (office)

    Candace Batycki
    Program Director, BC and Yukon
    Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative


    The letter was signed by:

    Alliance 4 Democracy

    The Anglican Eco-Justice Unit, Diocese of New Westminster

    Amnesty International Canada

    Blue Planet Project

    BC Women's Institute

    Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion - BROKE

    Canadian Federation of Students

    Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers)

    Council of Canadians

    Christian Peacemakers Team, Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Project

    Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) Vancouver

    Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS)


    David Suzuki Foundation



    Greenpeace Canada

    KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives

    Oxfam Canada


    Peace Valley Environment Association

    Peace Valley Landowner Association

    RAVEN (Respecting Aboriginal Values and Environmental Needs)

    Skeena Wild Conservation Trust

    Sierra Club BC

    Union of BC Indian Chiefs

    West Coast Environmental Law

    Wilderness Committee

    Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative