Treaty 8 Justice for the Peace Tour
Thank you for helping support the Treaty 8 Justice for the Peace Tour!
The caravan has arrived in Montreal, and the donation page is now closed. To follow their progress and receive updates, check their Facebook page.
Today, dozens of members of Treaty 8 First Nations are embarking on a very signficant and historic journey. By bus, they will travel 4,432km from the banks of the Peace River Valley (BC) to Montreal (QC) to make sure the voices of the Peace River Valley are heard in the Federal Court of Appeal.
The cross-country caravan will stop in communities along the way, sharing stories, connecting struggles, and building support for the just resolution of the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations’ case against the Site-C dam. These two communities have been fighting this project for nearly five decades.
Site C is an economically and environmentally disastrous plan to build a giant dam in the Peace River Valley of northeastern BC. It’s an $8.8+ billion project that will flood 107 km of northern BC's most fertile farmland, drown critical wildlife habitat, and trample indigenous rights — all to supply electricity for dirty tar sands extraction and fracking.
The Peace River is the lifeline for numerous First Nations – a critical pathway for their food security, cultural survival, and spiritual identity. The Peace River Valley is a vital point of reference for the people to connect their ancestors and to who they are; this is where leaders and Prophets are buried, where ceremonies and gatherings are held, and where the Drummers sing their Dreamers’ songs. The Treaty 8 people want to live as they were promised in the Treaty agreements which were signed with the Crown along the banks of the Peace River.
The West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations are appealing a federal judge’s decision regarding the approval to allow the construction of Site-C despite the project’s violation of their constitutionally-protected Treaty and Aboriginal rights. After months of waiting for a trial date, they’re appearing in federal court on September 12th. When the House of Commons resumes sitting a few days later, they’ll head to Ottawa to deliver tens of thousands of petition signatures with the intention of meeting with key Ministers on the file.
The stakes in this court case are high and Canada's reputation is on the line. Donate today to help bring the people who are affected by this disastrous dam directly to decision-makers and to have their day in court!
--- Background information ---
On September 12th, Prophet River and West Moberly First Nations are facing off against the Federal Government and BC Hydro over the Site C Dam in the Federal Court of Appeal. They will be asking the Court whether Canada violated the constitution when it gave environmental approval for the dam without determining – or even considering – whether the significant adverse environmental effects of the project would infringe Treaty rights.
The Site C Dam is a large hydroelectric project on the Peace River in northeastern British Columbia. This region has seen decades of oil and gas, forestry and mining development. The Peace River Valley, which holds significant cultural value for the Treaty No. 8 First Nations, has already been impacted by two large hydroelectric projects built in the 1960s and 1970s. The remaining portion of the Peace River Valley is extensively used by First Nations, including Prophet River and West Moberly, for cultural purposes and for the exercise of their Treaty rights.
First Nations are still reeling from the impacts of the two existing dams on the Peace River and their reservoirs. The W.A.C. Bennett Dam and Williston Reservoir eliminated important waterways and trails that the people and animals used, resulting in broken trade networks and kinship connections amongst various First Nation groups. Key food sources, like the caribou, sheep, and Arctic grayling, have nearly disappeared and the fish poisoned with mercury. Downstream into Alberta and as far as the Northwest Territories, there have been noticeable decreases in water levels and ice formations that supply water to wetlands. Reduced access to their territory has drastically affected harvesters and trappers’ abilities to secure food and income.
Many are fearful that the proposed Site C dam will hold the same fate for other animals and fish in the system (wiping out moose) and the negative environmental and social effects of the first two dams will multiply.
Although the First Nations put Canada on notice that the dam would infringe their Treaty rights, and under law needed to be subjected to a stringent “justification” test, Canada decided it could authorize the dam without considering whether it would infringe Treaty rights. Canada took the position that as long as there had been adequate consultation with First Nations, it could proceed with an approval without addressing the First Nations’ assertions of Treaty infringement.
The implications of the court’s decision are far reaching, especially for other Treaty First Nations. The outcome of this appeal will clarify Canada’s obligations when authorizing major projects that are found to have significant, immitigable adverse environmental effects on the use of lands and resources by Aboriginal people. Can these projects be authorized based only on an assessment of the adequacy of consultation? Or can substantive Treaty rights be protected by requiring Canada to apply a more stringent justification standard before making a decision?
For more information about the Protect the Peace River Valley Campaign, go to: http://www.stopsitec.org/