Tag Archives: Site C

Site C Threatens Indigenous Rights: Amnesty International Report


Amnesty International says indigenous human rights are being threatened by the Site C hydroelectric dam. (Photo: CP)

(CP) By Dirk Meissner, Posted: 08/09/2016

VICTORIA — An Amnesty International report calling for work to stop on British Columbia’s $8.8 billion Site C hydroelectric dam will not affect construction on the project, says the Crown corporation building the project.

The independent human rights advocate released a report Tuesday calling on the federal and provincial governments to suspend or rescind all construction approvals and permits related to the project in northeast B.C., saying the megaproject on the Peace River threatens the human rights of indigenous peoples.

The report, The Point of No Return, also said the project should only proceed on the basis of free, prior and informed consent of all affected indigenous peoples.

At least two area First Nations are challenging the project in court.

Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett and Jessica McDonald, BC Hydro’s president and chief executive officer, said the government and Crown corporation have consulted widely and meaningfully with area indigenous peoples since 2007 and those talks continue as the project proceeds.

“The Site C project has been through an extensive review and approval process,” said McDonald. “It’s an approved project. It has its permits and it’s our responsibility to continue construction and bring this project into operation on time and on budget.”

The Amnesty International report said archeological evidence shows indigenous peoples have lived in the Peace River area for more than 10,000 years and many rely on the valley to hunt, fish, trap, conduct ceremonies and harvest plant medicines.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark announced approval of the project in December 2014. Construction at the dam site started last summer and the federal government recently approved permits to allow work to begin on diverting water flows.

“It’s an approved project. It has its permits and it’s our responsibility to continue construction and bring this project into operation on time and on budget.”

“Canadian and international law require a high and rigorous standard of protection to ensure that indigenous peoples, who have already endured decades of marginalization, discrimination, dispossession, and impoverishment, are not further harmed by development on their lands and territories,” said the report by Amnesty.

McDonald said Hydro has reached agreements with many of the First Nations to mitigate potential impacts of the project.

“To speak in general terms, we have been successful in reaching agreements that speak to respecting the interests and concerns First Nations communities may have regarding the project,” she said. “I do feel that the report misses the mark.”

The dam would be the third on the Peace River, flooding an 83-kilometre stretch of valley near Fort St. John.

Site C approval violated obligations to indigenous peoples: report

The Amnesty report said Site C’s approval process violated Canada’s human rights obligations toward indigenous people on several grounds, including putting B.C.’s plans for the area ahead of indigenous peoples’ preferred use of the land.

“No amount of consultation is adequate if, at the end of the day, the concerns of indigenous peoples are not seriously considered and their human rights remain unacknowledged or unprotected,” said the report.

“This group and many of the groups want to focus on the negatives, without ever acknowledging all the positive things.”

Bennett wasn’t available for an interview, but he told radio station CHNL that the report ignores benefits associated with the project and an extensive consultation process.

“This group and many of the groups want to focus on the negatives, without ever acknowledging all the positive things,” he said.

Bennett said the report does not properly acknowledge the jobs the project is creating, especially for indigenous people, and the long-term power supply the dam will deliver.


Site C Hunger-Striker Condemns Christy Clark Hours Before Hospitalization


Site C protester Kristin Henry has been camped outside BC Hydro’s office in downtown Vancouver since March 13, 2016, with little more than tea to keep her going. Photo by Elizabeth McSheffrey.

National Observer, April 1st 2016

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark “will have blood on her hands” if she continues to move forward with the Site C Dam, said protester Kristin Henry on the 19th day of her hunger strike against the controversial hydroelectric project.

She uttered the words only hours before her hospitalization late Thursday evening, when the 24-year-old’s heart rate dropped to “concerning levels,” according to her protest’s Facebook page. Henry has survived only on water, tea, and vegetable broth since March 13. She admitted to feeling exhausted, dizzy, and light-headed, speaking with National Observer earlier that day.

Construction of the $8.8-billion “clean energy” dam started last summer on the Peace River of northeastern B.C., a river that flows right through the heart of Treaty 8 Territory belonging to the Doig River, Halfway River, Prophet River and West Moberly First Nations. Upon completion, it will produce enough power to light up roughly 450,000 B.C. homes per year, but its reservoir is expected to destroy more than 100 kilometres of river valley bottoms along the Peace River and its tributaries.

These First Nations say it would flood their burial grounds and other culturally important sites, and disrupt vital hunting and fishing activities.

“I don’t plan on living in a world that has the Site C Dam in it,” Henry said from her encampment outside BC Hydro’s office in downtown Vancouver. “I’m hopeful the government will come and engage with me because I think it would show a lot about the society we’re living in if they don’t.”

Beyond a short conversation with the CEO on Day 3 of her hunger strike, Henry said BC Hydro has ignored the presence of the campers on their doorstep. The company did not respond to National Observer’s request for comment in time for publication of this story, but in a Wednesday news release, said:

“Site C will provide clean, reliable and cost-effective electricity in B.C. for more than 100 years.”

“It’s a horrible project and Christy Clark said it herself — she’s trying to get it ‘past the point of no return,’” Henry explained. “I think it’s pretty disgusting that they’re doing irreversible damage to Treaty 8 territory while the legality is still being challenged.”

B.C. Premier Christy Clark addresses clean energy in the province at the 2016 Globe Series in Vancouver on March 2. Photo by Elizabeth McSheffrey.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark addresses clean energy in the province at the 2016 Globe Series in Vancouver on March 2. Photo by Elizabeth McSheffrey.

Beseeching the prime minister

The B.C. and Yukon Territory Building and Construction Trades Council (BC Building Trades) has already filed a lawsuit against BC Hydro for terms in the provincial Crown corporation’s request for proposals that prevent union members from striking during the construction of the Site C dam or recruiting other non-union members into unions.

The Blueberry River First Nations has also launched a court case against the province, alleging its Treaty 8 rights have been violated by decades of development on the territory. The lawsuit could impact construction of the dam as well as the expansion of mineral, oil and gas extraction in the province’s north.

A breach of Indigenous rights should be enough to put the project to rest, said Henry, whose group of out protesters have now appealed to the federal government for help.

“This is a matter of human rights and it is time the Government of Canada afforded Treaty 8 First Nations the same human rights afforded to the rest of its citizens,” reads an open letter to Prime Minister Trudeau that has been sent to his office more than 1,000 times by protesters across the country. “Mr. Trudeau, will you keep your promise?”

The letters are currently being circulating outside the BC Hydro office in downtown Vancouver, where Henry said most residents who approach their occupation have never even heard of the Site C Dam to begin with. All it takes is a few moments of explanation, she added, before someone hastily signs a copy in opposition.

“We don’t need the energy but we need everything that the project’s going to destroy — the valley, the farmland, the water,” she insisted.

An artist rendering of the Site C Dam near Fort St. John, B.C. Graphic courtesy of B.C. Hydro.

An artist rendering of the Site C Dam near Fort St. John, B.C. Graphic courtesy of B.C. Hydro.

A symbolic hunger strike

The Site C Dam received federal and provincial environmental approval in October 2014, but the Joint Review Panel evaluating the project found that it would have significant adverse effects on rare plants, fish and fish habitat, put the fishing activities of local First Nations at risk, and threaten several species of birds, butterflies, and bats, and the western toad.

At least 63 endangered, red-listed, blue-listed, at risk, threatened, and of special concern animal species call the Site C area in the Peace River Valley home,according to the project’s protesters, and Henry said her hunger strike is against something far bigger than a single hydroelectric project.

“I’m sick of putting my health on the line to fight our government to do what’s right for us, not industry,” she explained, clutching her water bottle tightly. “The world can go in two directions — they can work with us, respect us, work with nature and we can have a bright future, or they can oppress us and destroy the environment.

“I think Site C is kind of this point — they can make that decision and go one way or another.”

Green Party leader Elizabeth May applauded Henry’s bravery but encouraged her to heed the advice of her doctors on her health. The federal Green Party leader was scheduled to meet her at the camp on Friday, an appointment she kept despite the 24-year-old’s hospitalization.

She said Kristen is needed alive and well in the fight against the “disastrous” Site C project.

Praise from Green Party

“It’s not too late to stop it,” said May, speaking with protesters outside the BC Hydro building. “That’s why I’m grateful to Kristen and all of you here for making the point that it’s not too late.”

The Green Party leader said the riparian zones can still be repaired and the clearcut trees can still grow back. Provincial and federal permits have already been issued for the dam, but more federal permits are required under the new Liberal government to make it a fully operational project.

May joined protesters in Vancouver in calling on the prime minister not to issue a single one of them, lest he break one of his most vital election promises:

“Activities that are treaty-protected will be violated,” she explained. “If the Liberals buy into that and allow it to continue, they will have violated their most fundamental commitment from the election campaign, the Throne Speech and the mandate letters from each of the ministers.”

In 2001, May also went on a hunger strike to successfully pressure the federal government to clean up toxic waste in the Cape Breton Sydney Tar Ponds. She said the commitment Henry has made by putting her health on the line represents the Site C views of thousands of Canadians, and prayed for her speedy recovery.

Green Party leader Elizabeth May greets Peace River Valley farmer Sage Birley at the protesters' camp outside BC Hydro on Fri. April 1, 2016. Photo by Elizabeth McSheffrey.

Green Party leader Elizabeth May greets Peace River Valley farmer Sage Birley at the protesters’ camp outside BC Hydro on Fri. April 1, 2016. Photo by Elizabeth McSheffrey.


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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

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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.


BC Hydro Seeks Injunction Against Site C Dam Protesters


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.