OTTAWA, Jan. 17, 2014 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National
Chief Shawn-A-in-chut Atleo today stands with all First Nations
rejecting the Site C Dam proposal on the Peace River in northeast
British Columbia. First Nations in Treaty 8 territory have been telling
a Joint Review Panel currently holding hearings into the project that
they are already experiencing damaging and adverse effects from
development and the Site C Dam proposal will further harm their lands,
waters and territories, including their traditional fishing grounds.
"First Nations along the Peace River are demonstrating leadership,
standing up for their rights and fulfilling their responsibilities to
their traditional territories," said National Chief Atleo. "There are
real and serious concerns about the effects of this project on the
people and their traditional territories. Government and industry must
respect the inherent Aboriginal and Treaty rights of First Nations,
including their right to a say on any developments that could affect
their lands, their lives or their people. The AFN stands with First
Nations in Treaty 8 and the Peace Athabasca and Mackenzie watersheds."
The Peace River is the traditional territory and an historical
transportation route for First Nations in the region. West Moberly
First Nations Chief Roland Willson informed the Panel about the
concerns around potential impacts from several development projects
that are already leaching pollutants into the rivers. His submission
referenced 17 rivers that have been polluted by mercury, methyl
mercury, selenium and other contaminants from resource development
activities. The effect of the cumulative impacts of the project on
fish, water flows, water levels and overall watershed protection are
not clear and are a major concern for First Nations in the area.
National Chief Atleo said: "Respectful implementation of our rights is
necessary for sustainable development and there will be no compromise
where our rights are concerned. Development can only proceed based on
the free, prior and informed consent of First Nations. Their voices
must be heard and their position respected."
The AFN has resolutions supported by Chiefs across Canada calling for
comprehensive and meaningful consultations with specific reference to
Treaty, Aboriginal title, rights and jurisdiction. In 2010, a
resolution was passed mandating AFN to advocate on this specific
project for a process which assesses "the traditional, environmental,
social and economic interests of Treaty First Nations, and mitigation
to ensure that there is no net impact on Aboriginal and Treaty rights -
or denial of approval of the dam if such impacts cannot be mitigated".
The CEAA began public hearings on the Site C Dam project in December
2013 and will end those sessions on Jan. 23rd, 2014 and start writing
the report by February 3, 2014. The recommendations will be presented
to the Federal Environment Minister in late April.
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing
First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.
SOURCE: Assembly of First Nations
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