Join the discussion to explore the social and legal ramifications of Site C July 5 at Douglas College Aboriginal Gathering Centre.
The social cost of moving forward with Site C, the third major dam on the Peace River in northeastern BC, goes far beyond the obvious cost overruns and rearguard economics. The tension cracks in the river bank where BC Hydro and the BC Government plan to blast aren’t the only cracks that pose a danger. The project will shatter the entire ecosystem of the Peace River Valley.
We’re All Treaty Peoplewill welcome special guest Chief Bob Chamberlin of the Union of B Indian Chiefs and eature Dr. Gordon Christie, Inupiat/Inuvialuit ancestry, UBC specialist in Aboriginal law (bio attached) and Julian Napoleon Dane-zaa and Cree (bio attached) from the Saulteau First Nations, dedicated to raising awareness around Indigenous issues of land, water, food and community. Other guests will include Adrienne Peacock, a Douglas College Professor emeritus who was a member of the BC Utilities Commission when it rejected Site C in the early 80’s and Reverend Emily Smith the Parish Priest at St. Barnabas Anglican Church in New Westminster.
On the value of land to culture and survival, Mr. Napoleon does not mince his words, “In its destruction of invaluable farmland, waterways, and ecologically rich and abundant biocultural heritage areas, the Site C dam endangers all of our long-term resilience, sovereignty, and food security.”
Dr. Christie will bring clarity to the evening by presenting Treaty 8, its legal ramifications and who is responsible for its adherence. The West Moberly and Prophet River cases as well as the Blueberry River case will be explained in accessible language. But he will also discuss how every British Columbian has a responsibility to ensure that Treaty 8 is respected. Dr. Christie emphasizes that, “Canadians are treaty partners within the treaty 8 regime, and so should be concerned that promises made in the treaty—on their behalf—are being upheld.”
Each guest will be asked to answer the following questions:
Why should the Site C Dam be halted?
What can we do to stop it.
The evening is a fundraiserand pay-what-you canwith food, videos and a chance to meet people working on-the-ground to stop Site C. All proceeds of the evening will go to three court cases: West Moberly and Prophet River Bands injunction request, the Blueberry River Bands Treaty 8 case and the Peace Valley Landowners Association whose members are the farmers and ranchers whose farms fall within the 140,000 square kilometers of land targeted for flooding for the Site C Dam. That territory is equal to the land between Maple Ridge and Hope. Just think about it.
The event is sponsored by Aboriginal Services, Douglas College and Fight C.
Information: Mae Burrows 604-526-1956 (h) 604) 916-9026 (c)
Join the conversation:July 5, 6:30-9:30 pm, a public discussion will take place at Douglas College’s Aboriginal Gathering Centre, to investigate just what is going on when it comes toIndigenous Rights, Treaty 8 and Reconciliation
Featuring special guest Chief Bob Chamberlain, (@chiefbobby)Vice President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, the evening will headline talks by UBC specialist in Aboriginal Law, Dr. Gordon Christie, Inupiat/Inuvialuit, Julian Napoleon, Dane-zaa/Cree researcher on Indigenous Food and Culture, Adrienne Peacock, faculty emeritus of Douglas College, and former member of the BC Utilities Commission and Emilie Smith, Rector at New Westminster’s St Barnabas Anglican Church. (see bios attached)
What is going on?
The West Moberly and Prophet River Bands from Northeast BC and signatories to Treaty 8, will return to court on July 23rd. They are seeking injunctions to prevent BC Hydro from going ahead with work on the Site C Dam, at least, until the conditions of Treaty 8 are settled by the courts. BC Hydro and the BC NDP government are contesting the injunction. The Federal Government recently stated that it will not contest the injunction. International groups including the UN and Amnesty International are calling on all governments to respect Indigenous Rights and the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Rights (UNDRIP)
Meanwhile, the Blueberry River Band, also from Northeastern BC and a Treaty 8 signatory, will be in court, this summer, as well, in a case brought by the Band against the BC Government, charging that the cumulative impact of industrial development on its traditional territory has breached the government’s obligations under Treaty 8.
Dr. Gordon Christie says, “Canadians are treaty partners within the treaty 8 regime, and so should be concerned that promises made in Treaty 8 – on their behalf – are being upheld.”
Christie emphasizes, “Besides being an economic boondoggle that will only serve to provide cheap power to the oil & gas industry as it goes about fracking in the northeast, flooding caused by the dam will make the exercise of constitutionally-protected treaty rights impossible”
Mae Burrows, Burnaby resident and long-time activist with Fight C is one of the of the July 5thevent organizers, “The Crown signs Treaties with First Nations on behalf of the people of British Columbia and Canada. It’s time we step up to the plate and demand that Governments respect those treaties.”
“What is it with all these court cases?” says Burrows. “British Columbians want to know why First Nations have to go to court to have Treaty rights respected. Why are First Nations still being treated as colonial subjects?”
Last year, the Blueberry Band lost its court petition for an injunction to stop work on Site C however, the judge ruled that “irreparable harm” had been done by industry.
Territory in Northeastern BC and extending into Alberta, has been the scene of an unbelievable amount of destruction as a result of industrialization from mining to gas and oil extraction in the last century.
West Moberly, Prophet River and Blueberry River Bands say again, “enough is enough!”
What can Canadians do to help stop Site C? Julian Napoleon is clear, “If people could come to an understanding of the major threat to our economy, environment, human rights, democracy, and the public institution of BC Hydro, that Site C presents I believe that no rational human being could continue to support the project.”
“Public interest is served by information sharing and open discussion.” concludes Burrows, “and that is what this event is all about.”
The evening is a fundraiser and pay-what-you can with food, music and the chance to meet face-to-face with people who are working on the ground and in the courts to try to convince the BC Government of John Horgan and his local MLA ‘s some of whom are cabinet ministers: Judy Darcy, Mike Farnworth, Selena Robinson, Jodie Wickens, Bruce Ralston, Harry Bains, Raj Chouhan, Janet Routledge and Anne Kang.
All proceeds of the evening will go to three court cases: West Moberly and Prophet River Bands injunction request, the Blueberry River Bands Treaty 8 case and the case being brought forward by the Peace Valley Landowners Association* whose members are the farmers and ranchers whose farms fall within the 140,000 square kilometers of land targeted for flooding for the Site C Dam. That territory is equal to the land between Maple Ridge and Hope. Just think about it.
The event is sponsored by Aboriginal Services, Douglas College and Fight C.
Information/Interviews: Mae Burrows 604-526-1956 (h) 604) 916-9026 (c)
Peace Valley Landowners Association(PVLA The PVLA consists of landowners who are impacted by the proposed Site C dam. The 70+members reflect a cross section of Peace River Country residents from farmers to oil patch workers and retirees many of whom lost their homes when the WAC Bennet Dam was built in the 1960’s. http://peacevalleyland.com/
There is a connection between the many battles that so many people who live in this land we call British Columbia. Our home on stolen land, First Nations Land. In the Vancouver Area it is the home of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Watuth Nations.
Throughout the territory recognized widely as British Columbia where resource extraction has been the mainstay of this region’s wealth, countless numbers of Indigenous communities have been resisting extraction without consent or return for centuries.
Today more than ever, people who identify as settlers, many of whom have benefitted from being part of settler communities are standing up and acknowledging what was so long-ignored. Now, more and more so, the resistance is spreading lead primarily by Indigenous communities — those who live on land begrudgingly given to them through Treaties then ruthlessly trampled for the purpose of extracting what to capitalists has been the basis of their wealth. As well leadership has come from members of Indigenous Communities who live away from their land in urban centres, often in poverty.
On Monday night, May 7 the Canadian Mining Community was celebrating the destruction they have wrought all over the world. They were celebrating each other in self-congratulating award ceremonies.
At the same time a group of activists also gathered to celebrate. They did so outside the glass palaces of luxury at what is known as Canada Place to celebrate those who have been resisting Canadian Mines, many head-officed right here in Vancouver. From the fight at Mount Polley, described in an article by Emma Gilchrist in the January issue of DeSmog Canada in the following terms:
“On August 4th, 2014 a four square kilometre sized tailings pond full of toxic copper and gold mining waste breached, spilling an estimated 25 billion litres of contaminated materials into Polley Lake, Hazeltine Creek and Quesnel Lake, a source of drinking water and major spawning grounds for sockeye salmon. ”
Despite the fact that Mount Polley is according to a headline in the same well-researched online publication, “one of the largest environmental disasters in Canadian history — no charges have been laid against the company,” DeSmog Full story deSmogCanada
In a serious, but light hearted event, opened with words by Tsleil-Watuth watch house co-ordinator Will George who made the connections between to Kinder Morgan on burnaby Mountain and the destruction taking place in BC and around the world brought about by these mining companies.
The songs of welcome by Indigenous matriarchs set the tone for the gala entitled: Unearthing Mining Justice . Whether in the Phillipines, Guatemala, Mexico, or Tibet to name a few places that were called out during this first gala of its kind in BC.more…more about mining justice
Site C every Friday at David Eby’s office
2909 W Broadway, Vancouver
Lemonade, cookies and information about the disaster taking place in North Eastern BC. It is amazing how little real information people living in the Lower Mainland have about the disaster that continues to unfold. Ken and Arlene Boon are farmers from the Peace River who have fought passionately to stop this dam from going ahead. Along with various Indigenous Communities who have been hurt by the non-stop destruction of fishing, hunting and farming land. Currently two court cases are pending. One brought about by the Prophet River Band and the other by the Blueberry River Band. Follow Ken and Arlene Boone at email@example.com and Witness for the Peace.
Wednesday, May 9 a hose down for Kinder Morgan
In Burnaby, activists — both Indigenous and Settler stopped entry to all the gates including the waters of Burrard Inlet where Liam and his kayaking pals managed to hook themselves up to the fence stopping Kinder Morgan from gaining access. The private KM security force known as the RCMP took a few hours to get out there to detach and arrest the brave young ones who are putting their time on the line. Meanwhile in a Kinder Morgan boardroom in Texas, USA two Indigenous Chiefs Judy Wilson of the Neskonlith Indian Band, and Rueben George of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation Sacred Trust travelled to Texas to meet with shareholders at the meeting Wednesday. The Chiefs succeeded in having a resolution passed that demands that KM ensure more environmental accountability.
The week had started, of course, with the Greenpeace action to halt the transportation of the giant drill that Kinder Morgan brought to BC for the purpose of drilling through Burnaby Mountain.
The new Fight C website https://witnessforthepeace.ca has recently been established by the Vancouver group working tirelessly with First Nations — specifically the Prophet River and Blueberry First Nations — and the Peace Valley Landowners Association in the hopes of bringing the BCNDP/Green Coalition to its senses with regard to stopping the Site C Dam.
The resistance to this dam has been going on for almost 30 years. Until the BC Liberals pushed forward with work on a new dam slated to flood another 140 km of prime agricultural land the battle was almost won.
The BC NDP, in opposition for many of those years expressed contempt for the Liberal government’s decision to push forward with Site C. John Horgan, Michelle Mungall and other members of the current government even bought $100 stakes to support the fight to stop Site C.
Yet shortly after forming government the NDP and their partners despite being in a very tenuous position in the BC Legislature and against the advice of hundreds of scientists, economists, and importantly Treaty 8 First Nations and farmers who live and work in the Peace River Valley.
Like many others who live in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia I’ve never been to the Peace River Valley. I knew nothing of the people who have lived in the area for hundreds if not thousands of years. People in my own family went to work on the first damming of the Peace River known as the W.A.C. Bennett Dam after the B.C. Premier who promoted the dam. No consideration was given to the people whose lands were flooded to create the first dam. Not until 50 years later when in 2017 BC Hydro apologized for the pain and harm brought about by the dam’s construction. But that did not stop BC Hydro or the newly minted coalition government from proceeding with a new dam, the Site C despite strong arguments that it will destroy farm more than it will create well being.
“I want Canada and BC to honour their Treaty obligations and respect the rights of Indigenous peoples. I will follow the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nation court case to protect the Peace River Valley and speak out whenever the federal and provincial governments dishonour their obligations or disrespect the rights of Indigenous peoples. We are all Treaty people.”
Check out the facebook pages for the Peace Valley Landowners Association. They’ve been fighting against the destruction of this land for a long time and could use help in paying off the debts accumulated in their work in preparation for the BC Utilities Commission Report. This was the report that the NDP promised to take seriously before and during the election, then abandoned when they approved going ahead with Site C.
Take a look too at the facebook page for the Peace Valley Environmental Association
Watch for the recently published book that gives you the full story of one of the most important river valleys in British Columbia and in Canada. Breaching the Peace: The Site C Dam and a Valley’s Stand Against Big Hydro (UBCPress, Spring 2018). by Sarah Cox, an award winning journalist.
I also recommend the online publication DeSmog Canada although the publication name will be changing in the near future.
Muskrat Falls in Newfoundland, Keeyask Dam in Manitoba and Site C all follow the devastating and destructive path of the James Bay Power project. The billions of dollars being spent on these massive projects of destruction have done little to promote truly green energy for Canada. They have all proceeded over the objections of peoples who have lived on this land for thousands of years.
There is much to answer for.
If you are in Vancouver on any given Friday afternoon join the water protectors at the office BC Attorney General, David Eby. 12 til’ 2 every friday. Its at 2909 W Broadway, Vancouver.
Thanks to Rita Wong for permission to publish an early draft of the following piece. The final revised article will be published in an anthology on climate change planned for publication in the fall of 2018.
Rita Wong is a teacher, poet and water and land activist. (@rrwong)
This spring, I’ve spent many hours volunteering and keeping watch at Kwekwecnewtxw, the Coast Salish watch house set up to protect land and water from the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline (https://protecttheinlet.ca/structure/). A place of prayer and ceremony, the watch house was and is also used to watch for enemies.
Accusations of “national interest” fly through the corporate media, and recently the “we love this coast” banner at nearby Camp Cloud was defaced. Despite all the moneyed noise and roughly 200 arrests** of water protectors at the nearby entrance to the Kinder Morgan tank farm, here at this sacred space, I feel the calm and commitment that comes with a community voicing deep love for home, for each other, and even for the relatives who don’t understand or don’t care why humanity needs to stop fossil fuel expansion.
Water protectors come in waves day after day, singing songs like:
People gonna rise like the water, gonna shut this pipeline down I hear the voice of my great granddaughter, saying stop Kinder Morgan Now
Moon after moon, people keep the camps going, with sacred fires, kitchens, workshops, open houses, steady activity both mundane and magical. It’s humbling and uplifting to feel part of a much larger movement asserting connection and responsibility to land and place, remembering the limits of the earth we call home and mother.
I hold immense respect for the Tsleil Waututh community members and allies who are determined to protect mother earth, so courageous and stalwart in their love for this land. They teach us so much through their sacrifice and their honesty, generosity of spirit, and wisdom. I seek to be a good guest on these Coast Salish homelands that I have had the good fortune to live in for the past two and a half decades.
For the past two years, I along with many others have spent much time trying to protect the living Peace River from being choked and killed by the Site C dam, a third dam on this river in Treaty 8 territory (northeast BC) that has already been devastated to provide BC with electricity. Previous dams were effectively attempted genocide on the Indigenous peoples of the river, and Hydro’s recent apology for the violence and trauma rings hollow as it prepares to inflict more violence and turn the sacred, fertile Peace Valley into a sacrifice zone for a capitalist economy that knows no bounds, no humility, no respect.
The past few months in particular have been devastating because of the provincial NDP’s betrayal of its base, the everyday people, but we have continued nonetheless voicing how crucial it is to protect what is left of the free flowing Peace River, a key migration corridor for remaining wildlife and abundant in sacred sites for Treaty 8’s Indigenous people. We hold weekly actions every Friday outside BC Attorney General David Eby’s office to urge him to ensure the province acts honourably on Treaty 8.
The Peace teaches us that those who live down south owe a huge debt to the north. It also offers the possibility of a future economy based in food security (with rich farmland) and respect for land. As places in the US are decommissioning dams, it is not too late to stop the Site C dam debt bomb.
Dams like Site C, Muskrat Falls and Keeyask are examples of ongoing colonization under capitalism, a new wave of hydro colonization, that will run us to the point of mass extinction, if people allow them to be pushed through despite bankrupting and harming us, big governments, and land. They are basically examples of how colonial governments are set up to benefit large corporations at the expense of the land’s health and the well-being of those connected to the land.
The dams greenwash the short term, disconnected greed that misses the bigger picture of what truly matters in life – for example, how the natural cycles like the waxing and waning of the moon teach us a rhythm of coexistence rather than exploitation to the point of destruction.
Many current struggles are connected through valuing the health of the water, respect for land and the land’s Indigenous peoples. There are so many contradictions under capitalism, but the truth remains clear as clean drinkable water: as a species, we cannot afford either the pipeline expansion nor the mega dam if we want to become better relatives with the earth and each other.
What links mega dams and pipelines are the growing inequities that arise with mega projects at a time when community economic development models provide more participatory and just possibilities for economies that fulfill the practical needs (not fleeing desires) of our loved ones.
At the end of the day, the night teaches us that we need to rest and respect our bodies as well as the earth. When the time is right, the moon gives us just enough light to navigate the paths to the watch house and the river. Each river, each place, is special and specific. But under capitalism, everything is reduced to profit and contracts that enforce submission to the banality of evil. I’m struck by Aaron Mills/ Waabishki Ma’iingan’s essay, “What is a Treaty? On Contract and Mutual Aid,” where he states “life under contract is a zombie horror” (215)… “beneath contract’s fiction…is carefully contained violence, always threatening to irrupt the artificial peace…”
Contracts attempt to replace the intimacy of trust built through relationships, through the processes of helping one another. They turn the natural cycles of place and time into endless business 24-7, restless to the point of collapse.
So the capitalist machinery needs to wane, like the moon. It needs to follow and respect existing natural cycles instead of wrecking them.
When we have a fever, we need to rest and sleep, drink lots of liquids and slow down. That is where we are today, from a planetary perspective. Whether we can achieve such a reprieve will depend on the people on the ground, working for their ancestors and the ones yet to come, in each of the places I’ve mentioned, and many more than I can name here.
**To donate to support the legal fund, go to https://stopkmlegalfund.org/ – I am also serving on the Board of this fund with the aim of ensuring that those who are poor can equitably access legal support.