Site C dam on Treaty 8 territory is a “clear human rights violation”: Kukpi7 Judy Wilson
The provincial government of British Columbia has decided to continue with the construction of the Site C dam on the Peace River on Treaty 8 territory.
CTV reports: “Site C was initially estimated to cost $6 billion, and the first approved budget, back in 2014, was $8.775 billion. The budget increased to $10.8 billion in 2018. But the latest update suggests it will cost about $16 billion in total.”
Premier John Horgan said that it would cost $10 billion to scrap the construction of the dam but today added $5.2 billion to its budget.
The news report adds: “In a statement released following the announcement that the project would go ahead, the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs suggested the decision violated the premier’s commitment to a UN declaration.”
UBCIC secretary treasurer Kukpi7 Judy Wilson says: “The Site C dam has never had the free, prior and informed consent of all impacted First Nations, and proceeding with the project is a clear infringement of the treaty rights of the West Moberly First Nation.”
Wilson also highlighted that this is a “clear human rights violation” and that the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has called for the suspension of the project until it has the consent of Indigenous peoples.
Land defenders now in court
In December 2015, Treaty 8 land defenders and allies set up a camp at Rocky Mountain Fort on the south bank of the Peace River to protest against the dam. But by February 2016, the Supreme Court of British Columbia had granted an injunction to BC Hydro ordering the land defenders to be removed from the area.
At that time, land defender Helen Knott of the Prophet River First Nation stated: “We do not wish to be arrested. We wish to see Canada respect the rights of indigenous people in accordance with its international obligations. We remain strong, united and firm in our opposition to this unnecessary project. We will do everything in our power to ensure Canada lives up to its commitments to indigenous peoples.”
The legal proceedings against the dam began in January 2018.
The Vancouver Sun has reported: “West Moberly [First Nations] will be in court next year, claiming infringement of its treaty rights and damage to its traditional territories from construction of Site C and other BC Hydro dams on the Peace River.”
“The case is set down for 120 days of court time, starting March 14, 2022.”
West Moberly chief Roland Willson said the government’s decision was “disappointing” though “not surprising.” He added “It’s an unlawful project … They’re violating treaty rights” and expressed optimism the dam could be stopped in court.
The reservoir is scheduled to be filled in 2023, though that could be delayed. The completion date for the dam has now been pushed to 2025.
You can find the UBCIC on Twitter, by clicking here.