Site C Dam
The United Nations’ top anti-racism body has stepped up its calls for an immediate halt to construction of the Site C dam.
In a letter to Canada’s ambassador to the UN, dated December 14 and now posted online, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination calls for the massive dam project on the Peace River to be halted unless the free, prior and informed consent of the affected First Nations is obtained.
The Committee is an independent, expert body appointed to monitor state compliance with their human rights obligations under a core international human rights instrument, the binding Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
The Committee’s call for an immediate halt to construction of the Site C dam was made under a special procedure intended to “prevent or limit the scale or number of serious violations of the Convention.”
West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations have been forced to launch a court case to protect the Peace River Valley from the destructive Site C dam and uphold their Treaty Rights. By pledging to be a “Witness for the Peace”, you are letting the government know that you want them to uphold their Treaty obligations and that you care about what they argue in court on behalf of the "public interest". Site C Tabling Resources Included.
“A B.C. government, led by me, will officially adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples…I will work with you to align the actions of my government with the Declaration.” – NDP leader John Horgan, prior to the 2017 provincial election
“It is well established that statements by elected representatives do not fetter decision makers, nor do political speeches constitute legally enforceable promises against the Crown.” – the Government of British Columbia’s written submission to the Site C injunction hearing
BC Premier John Horgan has said many fine words about upholding the rights of Indigenous peoples. He made these promises while running for office and he has repeatedly affirmed them since becoming Premier. But in the most significant test to date of the veracity and integrity of these commitments -- the arguments now being made in front of the crucially important Site C injunction hearing -- Premier Horgan’s government has done the very opposite of what it promised.
UPDATE: The federal government has decided not to oppose the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations while they seek an injunction to suspend construction of the Site C dam in British Columbia while important, unresolved Treaty rights concerns are before the courts. We're urging Premier John Horgan to follow this example. You can learn more about this vital test case for Indigenous rights at a new website launched with coalition partners: www.witnessforthepeace.ca
The federal government ignored a direct question about the Site C dam and Treaty rights violations during a review of Canada’s human rights record earlier today at the United Nations in Geneva.
"People shouldn’t have to go to court to claim their rights" – federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett, speaking at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, April 2018
In the coming weeks, two governments that have repeatedly promised to uphold the rights of Indigenous peoples will be in court to defend a massively destructive resource development project that they approved without ever once considering whether it would violate Canada’s Treaty obligations to the affected First Nations.
The West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations are asking the court to halt construction of the Site C dam which would flood more than 100 km of the Peace River Valley and its tributaries.
The environmental assessment of the project found that its impacts on First Nations cultural sites and way of life would be serve, permanent and irreversible. The United Nations’ top anti-racism body, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, has called for a halt to the project as a violation of the rights of Indigenous peoples.
“The fundamental issue is First Nations in the region have entrenched constitutional rights. Not just the requirement for consultation and accommodation, which we always hear about when we’re talking about resource projects. But they have entrenched constitutional rights to practice hunting and fishing as before, And that’s going to be violated by this dam.” - John Horgan, May 8, 2014
In announcing his government's decision to allow continued construction of a mega-project he once opposed, BC Premier John Horgan said that construction was already past "the point of no return." That's blatently false. Here's why:
One of the first acts of the recently elected provincial government of British Columbia was to order an independent review of the economic case for and against the massive Site C hydro-electric project. After releasing an interim report in September, the BC Utilities Commission held a series of public meetings across the province. The final report is due November 1 after which the decision on the fate of the project - and the Peace River Valley - will rest with the provincial government.
Gary Ockenden, the Vice President of Amnesty International Canada shared this note from a hearing that he attended:
The Chair and three Commissioners of the BC Utilities Commission came to Nelson, BC on September 26th and held a public hearing on the Site C project. I was fortunate enough to get a five minute slot to present to them as a BC ratepayer.
“Canada is built on the ancestral land of Indigenous peoples but regrettably it is also a country that came into being without the meaningful participation of those who were there first. And even where Treaties had been formed to provide a basis for proper relations, they have not been fully honoured or implemented.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressing the UN General Assembly the day after an interim report on the Site C dam was released
“The joint federal-provincial environmental impact assessment of the Site C dam was clear that flooding the Peace River Valley would destroy hundreds of graves and other cultural sites and cause severe, permanent and irreversible harm to the natural environment on which we rely. All this was pushed aside in the rush to build Site C.” Prophet River Chief Lynette Tsakoza responding to the Site C interim report
Three years ago, the federal government approved one of the most environmentally destructive resource development projects in Canada, over the opposition of profoundly affected First Nations.
by Robyn Fuller Presentation to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, 14 August 2017 Good morning, When I was a young girl the elders of my people the Dunne zatalked about a Prophecy. A Prophecy of four dams that were to be built on the Peace River. In the 1950’s the B.C government started looking at the Peace River as a potential site to build four Dams Site A, Site B, Site C, and Site D. In 1961 construction of Site A, now known as the W.A.C Bennett Dam was started. It was finished in 1968.
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.
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:
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:
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
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.