Justin Trudeau and his cabinet must uphold their promise to respect First Nations rights when it comes to federal decision-making for the Site C dam, federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May told DeSmog Canada while visiting a portion of the Peace River that will be flooded should the $9-billion project proceed.
“To me this project represents the litmus test for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his entire cabinet in their central commitment to establish a nation to nation relationship built on respect for Canada’s Fist Nations,” May said during an interview for a new DeSmog Canada Site C video.
May and DeSmog Canada were in the Peace Valley for the annual Paddle for the Peace where hundreds of people representing local landowners, First Nations, and environmental organizations voiced their opposition to the Site C dam.
“I’ve been working to stop Site C for a long time,” May said. “I've been trying the best I can to make sure every member of Parliament understands we can't give any more permits out without
violating relations with First Nations.”
Chief Roland Willson from the West Moberly First Nations said the project violates the rights of Treaty 8 First Nations.
“We’re fighting Site C in the courts because it’s the right thing to do,” Willson said, adding that under Treaty 8 his nation has the right to hunt, fish and gather medicines on their traditional territory in perpetuity.
“B.C. is ignoring — and Canada is ignoring — its obligation to the treaty.”
The West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations are fighting the Site C dam in both B.C. and federal courts.
Over 250 academics, several of Canada’s most prominent environmental organizations and human rights group Amnesty International have criticized the B.C. government’s decision to forge ahead with Site C construction despite the pending legal challenges.
“As a new Liberal government they made promises to science-based evidence-based decision making, to respect for First Nations,” May said. “If they take any of those commitments seriously they can’t issue a single additional permit.”