Grand Chief Calls On BC Hydro To “Back Off” Site C Protest Encampment

Wearing sacred red ochre paint on his face, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs' leader Grand Chief Stewart Phillip alongside Alberta's Melina Laboucan Massimo of the Lubicon Lake Cree, and Tsleil-Waututh elder Amy George, in Burnaby Mountain's conservation forest on Thursday. Photo by Mychaylo Prystupa.

Wearing sacred red ochre paint on his face, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs’ leader Grand Chief Stewart Phillip alongside Alberta’s Melina Laboucan Massimo of the Lubicon Lake Cree, and Tsleil-Waututh elder Amy George, in Burnaby Mountain’s conservation forest on Thursday. Photo by Mychaylo Prystupa.

By Black Powder | Red Power Media, Staff

UBCIC calls on BC Hydro to back off a First Nations encampment near Site C dam construction.  

A small group of First Nations campers have dug in on the south bank of the Peace River at Rocky Mountain Fort, —an 18th-century fur trade post. They are defending their traditional territory in the face of the proposed $9 billion Site C dam that would flood107-kilometres of the scenic Peace River and its tributaries, including indigenous hunting and fishing grounds.

Local landowners have also joined in the fight.

Protesters on the 269 Road blocked traffic from entering the Site C dam work site for about an hour before police arrived Wednesday.

Protesters on the 269 Road blocked traffic from entering the Site C dam work site for about an hour before police arrived Wednesday.

On Wednesday, at a protest in support of the encampment, RCMP made three arrests for blocking trucks, at the north bank entrance of the site C project —including Arthur Hadland, a former regional district director. He was arrested for mischief after refusing to move to the side of the road, according to police.

Aboriginal treaty rights, land title, the loss of farmland and other environmental concerns sparked seven court challenges involving the Site C dam.

January 8th, on the 

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of UBCIC, stated, “We are absolutely outraged that BC Hydro is working at the proposed dam site when critical court proceedings are in motion and a decision on Site C proceeding has yet to be determined. Yesterday, BC Hydro moved equipment in toward the camp, despite publicly saying they are speaking with Site C dam protestors and local authorities to try to peacefully end the standoff.”

The UBCIC said in regard to the arrests, they are deeply concerned that BC Hydro’s actions are increasing tensions on the ground.

Through formal resolutions, the UBCIC fully supports the efforts of Treaty 8 First Nations to ensure that their Aboriginal and Treaty Rights are honoured and preserved.

Grand Chief Phillip concluded “We continue to urge the provincial and federal governments to immediately cease proceeding with the proposed Site C dam project until such time as the Site C court proceedings are complete and the Site C Dam proposal is properly reviewed by the BC Utilities Commission. Further provocations on the part of BC Hydro will only serve to escalate tensions in an already volatile situation.”

rocky-mountain-fort

In late December, B.C. Hydro posted an eviction notice on a bunkhouse at the Rocky Mountain Fort camp site. Treaty 8 Stewards of the Land have since manned the camp around the clock, turning back logging equipment attempting to establish a foothold on the upstream bank of the Moberly.

The protesters say they will not permit BC Hydro to proceed with plans to clear-cut forests around the site and that they aren’t afraid of facing arrest.

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In an email, Site C spokesperson Dave Conway said that while Hydro has equipment in the area, “we are not moving equipment within the immediate proximity of individuals or the encampment itself.”

“Our immediate concern is to ensure the safety of both Site C workers and the protesters.”

Could Site C be the next Burnaby Mountain?

Earlier this week, Grand Chief Phillip who was arrested on Burnaby Mountain during Kinder Morgan protests in 2014, said he was considering a trip north to support the Rocky Mountain Fort.

(Video: Grand Chief arrested crossing police line in protest of Kinder Morgan)

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