SiteC Dam Is Waste Of Money And Infringes On First Nations’ Rights, Protesters Say

Protesters gather at Vanier Park to speak out against the construction of the Site C dam along the Peace River in northeastern B.C., in Vancouver on Saturday, July 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Linda Givetash

Protesters gather at Vanier Park to speak out against the construction of the Site C dam along the Peace River in northeastern B.C., in Vancouver on Saturday, July 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Linda Givetash

By Globalnews.ca, July 9, 2016

VANCOUVER – Dozens of people gathered at a Vancouver park on Saturday to protest the construction of the Site-C dam in northeastern British Columbia.

Protest organizers from the group “Fight C” said the dam on the Peace River proposed by BC Hydro is a waste of taxpayer money and infringes on the rights of First Nations.

The dam is estimated to cost upward of $8 billion and will generate 5,100 gigawatts of energy each year — enough to power 450,000 homes.

Those opposing the dam said the cost will only add to BC Hydro’s ballooning debt of over $78 billion and the energy generated is not needed since excess energy from the province is already being sold to the United States.

“I think this is a political agenda, it’s not for public necessity,” said Fight C organizer Caroline Brown.

While the province approves of the project, the federal government must also give approval and Brown said there are hopes Ottawa will stop construction.

A number of lawsuits led by First Nations and environmental groups currently underway could also kill the project, Brown said.

Members of the Treaty 8 First Nations, from the Peace River Valley, who attended Saturday’s rally said they do not approve of the dam that will flood lands they rely on for hunting and farming.

Connie Davis Brown, from the West Moberly First Nation, said communities around the site have not been properly consulted by BC Hydro or the provincial government.

“I feel like I don’t matter, my kids don’t matter, my mom doesn’t matter,” she said.

“They have no remorse for us at all.”

Preparation for construction has already begun with land clearing and new roads built leading to the site.

Brown said the development has caused berry bushes to disappear and changed grazing patterns of moose, making it harder for her family to find food.

Brown along with other protesters at the rally remain hopeful that the land can be salvaged if the project is stopped.

https://reportca.net/2016/07/sitec-dam-is-waste-of-money-and-infringes-on-first-nations-rights-protesters-say/

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You Can’t Injunction Sacred

Photo by Darcy Sawcheck.

Peace River (Photo by Darcy Sawcheck)

By Christy Jordan-Fenton, special to Red Power Media

Arriving back at the Rocky Mountain Fort Camp the day after they managed to get their feller-buncher past our fire keepers was devastating. The corridor they rammed into the forest had the feel of a grisly murder scene. Trees older than Treaty 8 lay on the forest floor, separated from their mammoth trunks. I sat beside a large cottonwood tree and cried, the tears freezing to my face in the -20C weather and opened my heart to feel what had just happened. And that’s when the trees began to speak. All they could ask is how someone could cut them down without seeing them? Without pausing for even a second to think of their lives and honour them? Not for one moment was the more than a century of their lives given a moment of pause. They asked over and over why their lives didn’t mean anything. I had no answer. All I could do is lay tobacco and tell them that we saw them and we honoured them.

Trees are prayers from Creation that all living things may have shelter, and medicine, and food, and fire. But all that was likely on the minds of the contracted BC Hydro employees the day they rammed their heavy equipment through, was breaking past our lines. The day after, as I sat and listened to the trees, now dying having been severed from their roots, I made a vow that no matter what would happen to that forest, I would do all I could to honour the plant nation, the animal nation, the rock nation, and all the other spirits held in the forest at the apex of the Peace and Moberly Rivers in Northeastern BC.

It was a sentiment deeply shared by the other campers. And so we brought broad cloth and tobacco to the flat, praying in good ways for our generations to come to be able to enjoy this sacred place, and for the renewal of the forest, the land, the air, and our precious waters, and for our abundant eagles who were the very first targets of BC Hydro’s destruction.

We gave respect to our ancestors and the sacrifices they made for us to be here, asking them to guide us in good ways, and honouring this place where the spirits rest. We prayed for healing of the people, of the land, of the water, of all living things, of our hearts, of the hearts of those who can so easily and without conscience destroy such places. We prayed for the return of the bison, for our unity and synergy, and to remember the fortitude of the bison who face into the storm instead of turning away from it. And we prayed, each of us, for the personal ways we connected to the Rocky Mountain Fort. We gave thanks and we celebrated and we offered our hearts. We placed those prayers with tobacco in prayer flags. We placed them in mourning flags. We made prayer bundles of strings holding fifty specific prayers each. We made them in a good way with good intentions, and blessed them with pipe ceremonies— with sacred pipes given to the people by White Buffalo Calf Woman. And then by tying those to the trees, we offered them in a good way to the spirits. Children hung those prayers. Elders hung those prayers. People of all nations (indigenous and not) placed those prayers where the spirits called them to be hung.

Prayer flags. (Photo by Christy Jordan-Fenton)

Prayer flags. (Photo by Christy Jordan-Fenton)

And now that we have been forced to leave by court injunction, evicted from sacred lands and traditional territory that access and use of was guaranteed for as long as the sun shines, the grass grows, and the rivers flow, BC Hydro and the RCMP are looking for a way to remove those prayers we offered. On Tuesday three RCMP members and one BC Hydro Safety and Security employee came to read the injunction to us, and give us their terms of eviction.

Let’s keep in mind that many of the elder Treaty 8 Stewards of the Land could recall coming with their families, as young children, to camp and hunt and gather medicines. One of our members retold the story of how her grandmother travelled across the Peace River to meet her husband on that flat. Our spokeswoman, Helen Knott, is the great-great-granddaughter of Chief Bigfoot, the last signatory of Treaty 8. And maybe a little more than ironic that the very spot where the RCMP stood reading the injunction to us, was the first place where contact with the white man was made for this territory.

To add insult to injury, there was much concern over what to do about the prayer flags. First, let me say that by their laws, trees that hold sacred prayers are considered to be culturally modified trees and are protected by the Heritage Conservation Act, which is Forestry jurisdiction in British Columbia, not the jurisdiction of the RCMP. Next, for those who do not know, by our natural law, to disturb sacred prayers offered to the spirits brings very bad medicine. It is not something to take as superstition or mess around with. These prayers were made in sacred Sun Dance ways and carry power.

Photo by Helen Knott.

Prayer flags. (Photo by Helen Knott)

So between legalities and worries of bad medicine, BC Hydro and the RCMP were interested in finding a solution to remove our prayers so logging can proceed, as 49 trees are currently held by prayers for the spirits.

As the only one in camp on that day who practices these ceremonial ways, it was for me to answer for these prayers. The entourage of RCMP included an Aboriginal Liaison NCO, who was full of questions and quizzes about the significance of our prayers. And so I patiently explained the teachings I have received in these ways, choking back all the emotion I could manage over having to concede this sacred ground in the first place. And then came a point in the conversation where the Sergeant looked me straight in the eye and said, “Look, this isn’t my first rodeo. If you can read between the lines, is there a way we can minimize the mojo of removing these.” What was being suggested was that an elder come in to do a ceremony to remove our prayers. ON SACRED GROUND. Now I understand the Sergeant felt in a precarious situation and was trying to mediate. But earlier that morning the RCMP were told by our community’s most senior Sun Dance elder that those prayers do not get moved. Both by their law and by natural law. It was made clear, those prayers can’t be moved. I couldn’t help but think as I was asserting the exact same as the elder had done that morning, that standing on soil that holds the bodies of more than ten thousand years of ancestors, where women journeyed to have their babies, where children made their first hunt, where the trees shared breath and recorded the stories of the ancestors into their own topography…in such a place, our prayers and the legal ramifications, in addition to the bad medicine stirred from removing them, is the least of their worries. Violating the sacred is violating the sacred. Stirring sacred ground is stirring sacred ground. There is no ceremony to make it OK to disrespect the spirits, and the prayers offered by those who stood in humility aligned in the sacred space between the ancestors and the descendants.

It is abhorrent that Treaty 8 members should be evicted from their sacred ground so that it can be mowed flat in order for BC Hydro to dump acid rock there, while four pending court cases are waiting to be heard, and any one of those cases could halt construction permanently. To say the desecration of this sacred ground is premature is a gross understatement. But now to be asked if there is some kind of loophole to remove our prayers made in honour of this sacred place, so it will be more convenient for BC Hydro to continue desecrating this ground is beyond insulting. I wonder if the RCMP would request if there was a way a church or a statue of a saint be moved, so a cemetery could be violated by the greed of a corporation. My guess is not in a million years.

In the words of the recently ascended, modern indigenous rights pioneer, John Trudell, “Sacred is sacred.” And it is. There is no wiggle room. No grey area. No loopholes. No pieces of paper to sign and then change the meaning of, or ignore all together. Unfortunately, we sorely lacked the numbers or any means to logistically hold the Rocky Mountain Fort Camp in a physical way, which has been unbearably crushing to us all, but we are not removing our sacred prayers from sacred grounds.

They can violate their own laws. They can remove us from the land with their injunctions, and threat of police force and $8 million civil suits. They can disrespect our prayers. But BC Hydro can’t remove the spirits. And may Creator have compassion and pity for anyone who seeks to violate the natural laws of the spirit world. We have offered sacred to sacred. There is no injunction that can steal stewardship of sacred, nor remove us from the place where we stand between the ancestors and the descendants.

At the time of this writing, it is not known if the prayer flags and bundles have been removed or disturbed, as entrance to the Rocky Mountain Fort is blocked by the RCMP and attempts made by press to document these prayers have been thwarted. The Fort St John RCMP detachment assures they are still looking into the matter, though no details have been given. You can report the existence of these culturally modified sacred trees to the BC Ministry of Forestry under their archeology department.

Watch for future actions from the Treaty 8 Stewards of the Land. We are far from done!

Christy Jordan-Fenton was an active member of the Rocky Mountain Fort Camp. She is the author of four books about Inuvialuit elder Margaret Pokiak-Fenton and her time spent at Indian residential school, to include “Fatty Legs” (Annick Press 2010) and “A Stranger at Home” (Annick Press 2011).

Protesters At Rocky Mountain Fort End ’62 Day’ Blockade Of Site C Dam Project

Opponents of Site C dismantle the remote protest camp that stalled BC Hydro dam construction work for two months. (Christy Jordan-Fenton)

Opponents of Site C dismantle the remote protest camp that stalled BC Hydro dam construction work for two months. (Christy Jordan-Fenton)

By Red Power Media, Staff

Landowners and First Nations protesters end 62 day blockade 

Protesters at the Rocky Mountain Fort camp ended their two-month occupation blocking Site C dam construction, after a judge ruled in favor of BC Hydro’s application for an injunction to remove them from the area.

Landowners and First Nations protesters had until midnight Monday, to vacate and make way for an $8.8 billion dam on the Peace River.

The British Columbia Supreme Court ruled that the protest camp had prevented site-clearing operations by BC Hydro contractors since December 31, costing millions of dollars in project delays.

“BC Hydro has the legal authority to do what it is doing and the defendants have no legal rights to obstruct it,” an attorney for the province-owned utility told the court on Monday.

Today, Site C opponents told CBC News they are obeying the Court order  requiring them to leave the area.

“At this time, none of us are going to be arrested, because we are law abiding citizens,” said local farmer Arlene Boon, who has been camping in the snow at the protest site for 32 days.

Yvonne Tupper, a land occupier with the Treaty 8 Tribal Association, said the protest’s end was bittersweet. “We bought that small chunk of land another 62 days of life,” she said. “When you understand your relationship to the land, it tells you where your place is.”

Today, Boon said people in camp are crying and emotional, as they pack up and dismantle cabins, lean-tos, and tents and load supplies on to snowmobiles and boats.

Protesters said the RCMP gave camp occupants a few days grace to pack up and clear out.

This rendering shows the planned Site C Dam in the Peace River valley in Northeast British Columbia.

This rendering shows the planned Site C Dam in the Peace River valley in Northeast British Columbia.

Tupper says what can’t be moved straight away are some of the cabins, which will be airlifted out of the area at BC Hydro’s expense.

The Site C dam in Northeast British Columbia received both provincial and federal approval.

The Supreme Court ruling came as Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gets ready for this week’s meeting with provincial premiers in Vancouver.

On Thursday, Trudeau will gather with provincial and territorial premiers for a first ministers meeting — the second one he will attend since his Liberal government came to power last fall — to begin figuring out how Canada will live up to the agreement it signed at the United Nations climate conference in Paris last year.

Trudeau is expected to unveil a green energy initiative.

Judge Grants BC Hydro Injunction To Remove Site C Protesters

image (1)

An artists rendering depicts the proposed Site C dam and hydroelectric generating station on B.C.’s Peace River. (BCHydro.com)

The Canadian Press, Feb 29, 2016

VANCOUVER – A judge has granted BC Hydro an injunction to remove people protesting the Site C dam project at a tent camp near Fort St. John.

The ruling means demonstrators have no right to obstruct the hydroelectric project, which has regulatory approval from both the federal and provincial governments.

The utility argued last week that the actions of a group of Peace Valley farmers and First Nations were illegal and could cost millions of dollars.

BC Hydro lawyers told court the protesters set up camp in late December and have prevented workers from clearing the area for construction, even building camp fires near tree-felling and excavation operations.

Yvonne Tupper of the Saulteau First Nations said outside court that BC Hydro is violating Treaty 8 Tribal Association’s rights and that the project should be put on hold while legal challenges make their way through the courts.

The $8.8-billion dam will flood agricultural land and First Nations archeological sites, as well as hunting and fishing areas.

http://bc.ctvnews.ca/judge-grants-bc-hydro-injunction-to-remove-site-c-protesters-1.2797737

No Trudeau Veto For Site C

site-c

Alaska Highway News‎, Feb 24, 2016

Little evidence of a change in course

According to Alaska Highway News,The Liberal government looks unlikely to block the Site C dam, after months of speculation over whether Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would reverse the Conservative government’s decision to approve the project.

In the House of Commons this week, Green Party and NDP MPs prodded the new government to further review Site C, citing concerns from local First Nations and landowners. But so far, it appears the previous government’s decision to issue federal permits for the project will stand.

Two Liberal ministers were asked about the $8.8 billion dam in question period, but avoided mentioning the project by name.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, who put a question to Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, said the project was “highly controversial and manifestly opposed,” saying federal construction permits were issued quietly during the last election.

But McKenna gave little evidence of a change in course.

“In the fall of 2014, the former government approved the project and set legally binding conditions with which the proponent must comply,” McKenna said. “The project is now at construction phase and BC Hydro must meet the requirements set out in the environmental assessment decision as well as other regulatory requirements.”

[READ MORE]

BC Hydro Seeks Injunction Against Site C Dam Protesters

Site-C-construction-rendering1

By Shelby Thom | CKNW

BC Hydro is seeking an injunction against demonstrators at the Site C dam.

The defendants include Ken Boon, the President of the Peace Valley Landowner Association, and Verena Hofmann with the Treaty 8 Tribal Council.

Court documents allege the protesters have built a camp, including a pair of cabins that were helicoptered in, are blocking site preparation work near the south bank of the Peace River.

The suit claims protesters are using the camp “as a base from which [they] have interfered with, and prevented BC Hydro employees from conducting work,” and have been both lighting campfires and standing in the paths of equipment and machinery.

BC Hydro claims the protesters are causing safety issues and are intentionally trying to cost BC Hydro and its partners by forcing them to miss a March 31st contract deadline to clear the land.

“As a result of such intentional interference, BC Hydro has suffered and will suffer, loss, damage, and expense.”

The suit also says the blockade may force the company to delay construction and modify plans for the nearly $9 billion power project.

BC Hydro is seeking to have the camp removed and the protesters blocked from the site.

None of the claims have been proven in court.

READ MORE: Union of BC Indian Chiefs demands new federal government stop Site C dam

War of words

BC Hydro spokesperson Dave Conway says the company would prefer for the protesters to move on their own.

“We’re hopeful that this can be resolved. Our top priority is to ensure the safety of both the Site C workers and the protesters, so we need to move forward with the clearing.”

And as for how much the demonstration is setting BC Hydro back?

“Those costs as far as I am aware haven’t been determined, we are looking into that, however I should be clear that this particular area where we need to get in to do some clearing, all other construction work on the site is continuing.”

But protester Ken Boon says the company is using heavy handed tactics on a “very peaceful, legal protest.”

He says the group offered to meet with Hydro as recently as Monday, and that “the reply to that evidently was to slap us with this civil claim.”

As to whether protesters will risk arrest, Boon says protesters are seeking legal help before they decide their next move, but will keep the camp standing for the time being.

http://www.cknw.com/2016/01/20/bc-hydro-seeks-injunction-against-site-c-dam-protesters/

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.

RELATED

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.”

https://twitter.com/CalebBehn/status/685230744046714880

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)

B.C. Site C Dam Protesters Dig In And Prepare For Arrest

Treaty8
The Canadian Press

Long-time former politician Arthur Hadland among those arrested at the work site

First Nations protesting the construction of the $9-billion Site C dam in northeastern British Columbia are preparing for their own arrests while they implore Prime Minister Justin Trudeau intervene to stop the hydroelectric project.

Helen Knott of the Prophet River First Nation said in an interview from the protest site that she and six other demonstrators are camped at Rocky Mountain Fort, the former site of a North West Company fur-trading post established in 1794, near Fort St. John.

RCMP said they arrested three protesters on Wednesday who had been blocking an access road needed by BC Hydro crews to begin work on the dam, the third on the Peace River. The dam will create an 83-kilometre-long reservoir and flood the area where the protesters are camping.

Eviction notice issued

The BC Hydro and Power Authority has issued an eviction notice, warning protesters that all contents of the camp set up on Dec. 31 will be removed and delivered to the RCMP.

Knott said the protesters are hunkering down while weathering snow and temperatures as low as –20 C, awaiting the possibility of arrest.

“It’s not necessarily anybody goes into it with that idea, like, yeah, we’re going to be arrested, right? It’s that, yeah, we’re committed to saving this tract of land and to, you know, actively use our treaty rights here,” she said.

Knott said she would rather not be arrested but is willing to be at the camp and take a stand on the issue.

https://twitter.com/faisal_moola/status/685228206698426369/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Protest camp to be logged

Site C spokesman David Conway said the protest is affecting a small clearing area, but all other construction work on the project continues. Contractors had been prepared to log the area where protesters are camped.

The utility hopes to resolve the situation through ongoing discussions with protesters and local authorities in order to resume construction, he said.

“BC Hydro respects the right of all individuals to peacefully protest and express their opinions about Site C in a safe and lawful manner,” he said in an email. “Our immediate concern is to ensure the safety of both Site C workers and the protesters.”

Several First Nations and local residents have filed legal challenges over the dam, raising concerns about flooding and the impact the lake will create.

Flooding historic and sacred sites

Art Napoleon of the Saulteau First Nation said in a phone interview from Victoria that the lake will flood the historic site and other sacred areas.

“That whole area was a culturally significant area for us, for hunting, trapping, fishing, gathering, a lot of history, all of our history, so that’s our cultural institution and it’s being raped, and it’s still not enough,” he said, adding he hopes Trudeau can get involved.

“Well, I don’t know what exactly he can do, but it’s worth a shot, isn’t it?” said Napoleon.

The protest camp is in a remote area. Knott said once protesters leave the main highway, they must drive on rough, secondary roads for 90 minutes to two hours before making another seven-kilometre trip by foot or snowmobile.

The timber needs to be cleared before birds move in for nesting in the spring, and provincial Energy Minister Bill Bennett said the delay would make the project more expensive.

“Government wants to be respectful of people’s right to express themselves and their right to protest. We accept that,” Bennett said in an interview. “We have to balance that with the right of the BC Hydro ratepayers to expect that this project would get built on time and budget.”

Moving forward despite court challenges

Bennett added that government agrees construction should proceed despite outstanding court cases. He said those in opposition appear to be using the legal system as a stalling tactic and also noted the courts have mostly sided with the utility.

Opponents have been stating their case for a long time, but “the fact of the matter is the majority of people in the province don’t agree with them,” Bennett said.

About 75 per cent of the 600 workers currently on the site are from B.C., Bennett added.

BC Hydro announced in December it would spend $1.75 billion to build the earthen dam, foundation, two diversion tunnels and spillways.

Source: http://www.cbc.ca/1.3394523

BC Hydro Orders Protesters Off Land Near Site C Dam

A sign protesting the Site C proposal is seen near Hudson's Hope B.C. in this July 2014 file photo. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)

A sign protesting the Site C proposal is seen near Hudson’s Hope B.C. in this July 2014 file photo. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)

The Canadian Press, Published, Jan 4, 2016 

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Members of a small but defiant group are pledging to keep protesting the Site C hydroelectric project in northeastern British Columbia, despite being ordered off the land.

They set up a camp on Dec. 31, when BC Hydro and Power Authority issued an eviction notice while pressing ahead with land clearing for the controversial $9-billion dam.

The Crown corporation gave protesters 24 hours to leave the area known as Rocky Mountain Fort, on the south bank of the Peace River, just a few kilometres south of Fort St. John.

It warned that BC Hydro personnel will remove all contents of the camp and deliver it to RCMP but such action had not been taken by Monday afternoon.

Verena Hofmann, a Peace River Valley resident who was at the encampment over the weekend, said contractors appear ready to begin logging a three-kilometre region that is First Nations territory.

“We’ve just heard that equipment has started up. It looks like they are intending to keep on cutting,” she said on the phone from Fort St. John. “Treaty 8 First Nation people are holding their ground and are not moving from the site, so things are intensifying and changing quickly.”

Hofmann said demonstrators believe BC Hydro has no right to force them off the land in the midst of ongoing legal challenges involving Site C.

Several court cases raise major concerns about the potential impact of flooding from the creation of a new lake on the Peace River and the surrounding valley during construction of the dam.

She said upward of about five people at a time are occupying the west side of the mouth of the Moberly River in rotating shifts. First Nations people and other landowners are staying in a small cabin that was flown to the bank, as well as a hunting tent, she said.

It takes about 30 minutes to walk or less by snow machine to reach an area where contractors are set up, she said.

“There is no physical structure blockading BC Hydro’s construction, it’s individual people approaching them and reasonably and respectfully pleading with them to cease construction.”

Local people are trying to protect the land – significant because it contains swaths of old-growth boreal forest – until court proceedings run their full course, Hofmann said.

She said the group has asked that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reassess the environmental approval granted for the project by the former Conservative government, in conjunction with the B.C. government.

A spokesman for Site C project said the utility will continue to monitor the situation and is evaluating “all options.”

“BC Hydro respects the right of all individuals to peacefully protest and express their opinions about Site C in a safe and lawful manner,” Craig Fitzsimmons, the manager of communications and issues management, said in an email.

“We are hopeful this can be resolved. We are in discussions with the protesters and local authorities to allow us to resume construction activities.”

The Rocky Mountain Fort was established in 1794 by the North West Company as a fur trading post and is the site of the earliest settler post in mainland B.C.

The dam will be the third on the Peace River, creating an 83-kilometre-long reservoir that’s slated to power up to 450,000 homes a year.

BC Hydro announced in mid-December that a consortium of three companies will be paid about $1.75 billion to build the largest components of the Site C development over the next eight years.

Source: http://ctv.news/uHU2ryZ

First Nations Seek Injunction To Stop Site C Dam Work, Destruction Of Eagle Nests

Capture Eagle

By Judith Lavoie / DeSmog Canada

Two Treaty 8 First Nations have applied for an injunction to prevent BC Hydro from cutting down trees containing eagle nests in preparation for construction of the controversial Site C Dam.

Several legal challenges to the $8.8-billion dam are pending, but the nest removal is scheduled to start September 1, according to a letter from BC Hydro to the Treaty 8 Tribal Association that gives notice of the “planned removal and destruction of Bald Eagle nests from construction areas of the Site C Clean Energy Project.”

Applications to the B.C. Supreme Court for an injunction and a judicial review have been made by the Prophet River First Nation and West Moberly First Nations. In a separate case, both bands are also seeking to overturn provincial approval for the dam.

The petition asking for an injunction says that Treaty 8 First Nations will suffer irreparable harm that cannot be mitigated by damages if the ground clearing and nest destruction goes ahead.

Of particular concern is the clearing of the South Bank of the Peace River Valley, which represents extensive, severe and irreversible losses to ecological and cultural resources that support the meaningful exercise of Treaty rights,” it says.

Consultation on the permits allowing the nests to be removed was inadequate and BC Hydro proceeded with an “aggressive timeline for consultation,” according to the documents.

The plan to remove up to 28 nests between September and March, once the nests have been confirmed as inactive, means time is short.

We are hoping that injunction happens sooner rather than later,” Treaty 8 First Nations member Susan Auger, said in a video made by Common Sense Canadian publisher Damien Gillis during a cultural demonstration on the banks of the Peace River earlier this month.

Eagles are something that are very significant to myself and my culture. It’s something that has got my blood boiling that they are going to come and cut down eagle nests,” she said.

Studies show that there are 25 active eagle nests in the dam area, representing half of the large raptor nests in the Peace River corridor between Hudson’s Hope and the Alberta border.

However, BC Hydro plans to compensate for the removal or destruction of the nests by installing 38 artificial nesting platforms.

Where feasible and safe, nests will be removed intact and relocated and installed on nest platforms,” says the BCHydro letter.

It’s a solution scoffed at by George Desjarlais of West Moberly First Nation.

I don’t know how they communicated with the eagles, how they spoke to them and got them to understand that this is your new home,” he said during the demonstration.

BC Hydro spokesman Dave Conway said that during Site C construction, BC Hydro will take great care to avoid or mitigate effects on eagle nests.

During construction, we will not disturb active eagle nests and will only relocate eagle nests when they are inactive, as confirmed by a qualified professional,” he said in an e-mailed statement.

For active nests retained through the construction period, a no-clearing buffer around each active nest will be implemented.”

In the Gillis video, Art Napoleon of Saulteau First Nation looks out over the north bank of the Peace River and points out that each island contains eagle nests.

There’s no need for it,” he said.

It looks to me like a test or a provocation.”

The First Nations are fundraising for the legal challenges through the website nosite-c.com.

We are closing in on $100,000 and our goal is $250,000,” said Susan Smitten of the group Respecting Aboriginal Values and Environmental Needs (RAVEN).

We are committed to making sure there’s access to justice. It’s a huge issue when you are going up against the deep pockets of BC Hydro and the provincial government.”

http://www.desmog.ca/2015/08/12/first-nations-seek-injunction-stop-site-c-dam-work-destruction-eagle-nests