Treaty 8

First Nations Case Against Site C Won't Be Heard by Supreme Court of Canada

Site C Dam First Nations Legal Challenge

The Supreme Court of Canada has refused to hear an appeal brought by the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations that argues the federal government failed to consider their constitutionally protected treaty rights when approving the $9 billion Site C dam in northeast B.C.

The rejection by Canada’s highest court has members of Treaty 8 First Nations wondering who bears the responsibility for determining whether or not a major project like Site C infringes on their rights as a treaty nation.

This is very sad news,” Roland Willson, Chief of the West Moberly, told Desmog Canada.

We have a treaty that is a part of the Constitution of Canada and there is no legal mechanism to protect the constitution, that piece of the constitution,” he said.

Every other part of the Constitution they won’t tread on except the part that’s got to do with Indians — they’ll walk all over that.”

Trudeau Silent as B.C. First Nations Take Site C Dam Fight to Federal Court

A caravan of Treaty 8 First Nations fighting the Site C dam arrived in Ottawa Tuesday, calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to halt the $9-billion project they say violates treaty rights.

The group arrives on Parliament Hill after a cross-Canada journey that brought them to the Federal Court of Appeal in Montreal on Monday, where a legal challenge by the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations was heard.

Tweet: ‘Anyone who reads the environmental report can see the #SiteC dam is an indisputable threat to our rights’ http://bit.ly/2cWb11z #bcpoliAnyone who reads the environmental assessment report can see that the Site C dam is an indisputable threat to our rights,” Roland Willson, chief of the West Moberly First Nation, said.

Elizabeth May Calls Site C ‘Litmus Test’ for Trudeau’s First Nations Promises in New Video

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.

Federal Justice Minister Says Canada’s Reputation at Stake Over Site C Dam in Newly Surfaced Video

At a 2012 Paddle for the Peace event the new federal  Justice Minister Judy Wilson-Raybould said the destruction of the Peace Valley for the contentious Site C dam threatens Canada’s reputation on the world stage.
 
In a video recently published on the Common Sense Canadian, a site co-founded by Rafe Mair and documentary filmmaker Damien Gillis, Wilson-Raybould said Canada’s “reputation is at stake with approval of these projects like Site C, like the Enbridge pipeline.”
 
“Our reputation as a caring and considerate environmentally friendly nation internationally is going to be questioned,” she said. “Running roughshod over aboriginal treaty and rights, including treaty rights, is not the way to improve that reputation.”
 
Some Treaty 8 First Nations in B.C. are vocally opposed to the Site C dam, which will flood more than 5,000 hectares of farm land, swamp indigenous archaeological sites and permanently destroy land First Nations use for hunting, fishing and collection of traditional medicines.

Want To Reduce Suicide in Native Communities? Step 1: Stop Destroying Native Land

Construction on the Site C dam on the Peace River

For the past couple weeks, Canadians have been wringing their hands about the suicide epidemic in the Pimicikamak Cree Nation in Cross Lake, Manitoba.
 
In the community of 6,000, six people have killed themselves in two months and more than 140 suicide attempts have been made in two weeks, leading the First Nation to declare a state of emergency.
 
Much of the blame has been placed on historic injustices — the very real fall-out of colonization and the residential school system.
 
But another historic injustice has also come to light: hydro development — which can be traced back to the Northern Flood Agreement of 1977. That agreement forced people from their homes and disrupted hunting, trapping and fishing.
 
In 2015, Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger personally apologized for the damage caused by hydro development to Cross Lake’s traditional land, way of life and cultural identity. He also acknowledged that Indigenous people were not properly consulted on the Jenpeg hydroelectric dam, 500 kilometres north of Winnipeg.

Site C Dam Permits Quietly Issued During Federal Election

Construction on the Site C dam on the Peace River

Former prime minister Stephen Harper’s government issued 14 permits for work on the $9 billion Site C dam during the writ period of the last election — a move that was offside according to people familiar with the project and the workings of the federal government.

“By convention, only routine matters are dealt with after the writ is dropped,” said Harry Swain, the chair of the Joint Review Panel that reviewed the Site C dam. “Permits and licences are only issued when a government considers the matter to be non-controversial and of no great public importance.”

Swain served for 22 years in the federal government, ending as deputy minister of Indian and Northern Affairs and later Industry. In an exclusive interview with DeSmog Canada last year, Swain said the B.C. government shouldn’t have moved ahead with construction on the dam until the demand case became clearer.

Female Site C Opponents Allegedly Intimidated, Harassed by Security Firm with Ties to BC Hydro

First Nations women camping at the Rocky Mountain Fort site and opposing ongoing construction for the Site C Dam say they feel intimidated and harassed by male security guards and “investigators” with ties to BC Hydro.

Women at the encampment told DeSmog Canada small groups of men arrive on site at least twice a day to film the predominantly female campers and repetitively question them about their intentions.

There would be three or four of them with cameras and all males,” says Helen Knott, a Treaty 8 member and Fort St. John social worker who has sometimes been alone in the bush when security guards and investigators suddenly appear. “It was intimidating…as a young indigenous women coming into daily contact with men with cameras in the middle of nowhere.”

Knott has been camping at the historic fort site since New Year’s Eve when she and other Treaty 8 members, along with Peace Valley farmers and business owners, set up a wilderness camp to maintain a presence in an old-growth forest on Crown land that is slated to be clear cut and flooded for the Site C dam.

One group of rotating campers keeps a fire burning throughout the day near the bridge over the Moberly River that was constructed by BC Hydro during the Christmas holidays in preparation for logging. The forest is prime habitat for the blue-listed fisher and migrating songbirds, and is used by Treaty 8 members and elders for spiritual purposes and to collect plants for traditional medicines.

B.C. Handed Out Scientifically Flawed Fracking Water Licence to Nexen: Appeals Board

Christy Clark

The B.C. Environmental Appeal Board has ruled the province failed to properly consult the Fort Nelson First Nations and employ adequate scientific modelling when it approved a long-term water withdrawal licence for Nexen Inc., a company with fracked gas operations in the Horn River Basin.

The board ordered the cancellation of the water licence, effectively immediately. The permit granted Nexen permission to withdraw up to 2.5 million cubic metres of water annually from North Tsea Lake, located within traditional Fort Nelson First Nation territory, until 2017.

The First Nation considers the ruling a significant victory over both Nexen and the B.C. government.

Granting this licence was a major mistake by the province,” Fort Nelson First Nation Chief Liz Logan said, adding “our members have always used the Tsea Lake area in our territory to hunt, trap, and live on the land.”

Logan said Nexen withdrew water from Tsea Lake at ecologically damaging times.

The company pumped water out of the lake, even during drought conditions,” she said. “There were major impacts on the lake, fish, beavers and surrounding environment.”

EXCLUSIVE: Site C Dam ‘Devastating’ for British Columbians, Says Former CEO of BC Hydro

Site C dam flood reserve level

In an exclusive interview with DeSmog Canada, former BC Hydro CEO Marc Eliesen says ratepayers will face a “devastating” increase in their electricity bills if the Site C dam is built and emphasizes there is no rush to build new sources of power generation in B.C.

With Site C, BC Hydro ratepayers will be facing a devastating increase of anywhere between 30 and 40 per cent over the next three years,” Eliesen told DeSmog Canada in his first interview on the subject.

There’s no rush. There’s no immediate need for Site C or any other alternative energy,” he said.

Eliesen’s comment about the lack of immediate need for the power echoes statements made by Harry Swain, the chair of the panel that reviewed the Site C hydro dam for the provincial and federal governments. In March, Swain told DeSmog Canada the B.C. government should have held off on making a decision on the dam.

‘This is a Watershed Moment’: Chief Vows to Be Arrested As Fight Against Site C Dam Ramps Up

Caleb Behn at Paddle for the Peace

On the banks of the Peace River on Saturday, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip told hundreds of opponents to the Site C dam that he will be handcuffed if necessary to stop BC Hydro’s mega project from moving ahead. 

From this point forward we have to really focus our efforts on how we’re going to physically stop this project from happening,” Phillip said during a speech at the 10th annual Paddle for the Peace. “The provincial cabinet recently approved permits to allow construction to begin. That’s where the rubber is going to hit the road.”

An emotional Phillip said B.C. is on the eve of an uprising after the government has repeatedly dealt in “bad faith” with First Nations.

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