Treaty 8 Stewards of the Land set out conditions to protect lands

Peaceful camp occupancy continues at Site C dam construction site

ROCKY MOUNTAIN FORT CAMP, BC, Treaty 8 Territory, Jan. 18, 2016 /CNW/ - First Nation members today called on the Canadian and British Columbian governments to embrace a three-point plan that will protect lands at imminent threat of destruction as preparatory work continues to build the Site C dam.

"As Treaty 8 Stewards of the Land, we have been camped out at Rocky Mountain Fort for many days in accordance with our belief that the Site C dam project represents a direct, and unnecessary threat to the traditional lands of Treaty 8 peoples," said Yvonne Tupper. "We call on Prime Minister Trudeau and Premier Christy Clark to work with us to ensure that these lands are protected by temporarily suspending approvals to log forests, build roads, and clear further lands in preparation for dam construction."

The three-point plan calls for:

  • A temporary suspension of all construction and land-clearing operations related to the Site C dam project until court challenges initiated by First Nations and local landowners who are opposed to the project are finally determined.
  • The federal government to temporarily suspend all federal Site C dam project approvals and the issuance of any future permits pending an expedited, open and transparent federal review of the infringement of Constitutionally protected Treaty 8 rights by the Site C dam.
  • The provincial government to temporarily suspend all construction work at the Site C dam site pending an independent review by the BC Utilities Commission of the Site C dam project, with full procedural safeguards, as recommended by the federal/provincial Joint Review Panel and many others.

Today's release of the three-point protection plan marks the 20th day that Treaty 8 First Nation Stewards of Land, joined by local landowners and supporters from across British Columbia, have been camped at the historic Rocky Mountain Fort site. The camp stands a short distance from where the Moberly River meets the Peace River, just up-river from the proposed Site C dam site. The dam, if built, would flood 107 kilometres of river valley lands along the Peace River and its tributaries and lead for example to the permanent loss of numerous First Nation burial grounds, other culturally and historically important sites, and valuable farmland.

Historically and still today, the Peace River has been the entranceway to vast bountiful lands and waters, as well as being the foothold that has welcomed and provided for many different groups of people and enterprises. 

There are two significant events that explain why we are united and with peaceful intent to protect and care for the Peace River Valley.  First, along these waters and islands of the Peace River, battling Beaver (also known as the Dane-zaa) and Cree agreed to a truce so that their future generations could co-exist and be sustained by the land and water in perpetuity. Secondly, the signing of the Treaty in the Peace River Valley between First Nations and the Crown promised that we would live a peaceful shared co-existence. Also, First Nations were guaranteed to be able to always pursue their usual vocations prior to entering into Treaty and without forced interference.

There are other examples of peaceful relationships with First Nations: explorers were guided into new places; fur traders were taught ways to survive and prospered; gold seekers passed through freely; and, pioneer families established farming homesteads.

These longstanding relationships and the solemn promises of Treaty are what guide us and it is in that spirit that we are here today at the Rocky Mountain Fort Camp and its surroundings on the south banks of the Peace River Valley.  We, the Treaty 8 Stewards of the Land and our supporters, are direct descendants of the people who were the first inhabitants, Treaty signatories, and later, settlers of the Peace River Valley. 

We are reasonable, responsible, and law abiding citizens.  We are mothers, youth, Elders, farmers, bushmen, business owners, teachers and artists. Our support is not only local but nation-wide.  We are respectful and have no intent to be involved in any occurrences that would be unsafe or harmful to either humans and property. 

"We continue to be involved in the peaceful, lawful exercise of our Treaty Rights to protect the land and highlight our concerns about the irreversible, negative impacts that this project will have on the Peace River Valley and on the exercise of our constitutionally protected Treaty 8 rights," said Art Napoleon.  

"We want a binding commitment from the federal and provincial governments that they will honor, respect and take into proper consideration the findings and recommendations emanating from the above three action items. Once the three actions are completed, then the governments can decide whether or not to lift the suspension on Site C's construction or to make the suspension permanent," said Helen Knott

The Treaty 8 Stewards of the Land contacted internationally respected energy expert Robert McCullough to ask whether or not a temporary suspension of construction of the Site C Dam would be costly to BC taxpayers and hydro ratepayers.

Robert McCullough replied,

"The short answer is no. The federal/provincial Site C Joint Review Panel found that Site C is being built before it is needed and so the relatively high cost Site C power will be exported at a loss for the first four years of operation. BC Hydro is likely to lose 50 cents on every dollar of Site C power exported during the first four years of operation. This amounts to a loss of hundreds of millions of dollars, which is likely to more than offset the costs associated with temporarily suspending Site C Construction.   

Ironically, BC Hydro is concerned about delay while regional bulk power electric prices are falling to their lowest levels in history. The U.S. Energy Information Administration annual on-peak average price for our region has fallen to just 41% of its levels since 2007. Current prices -- and forward prices through 2025 -- are approximately half the price of Site C."

This information demonstrates the economic folly of Site C.  Clearly the Treaty 8 Stewards of the Land and their supporters are acting in the best interests of all British Columbians.

SOURCE Treaty 8 Stewards of the Land

For further information: Helen Knott, Treaty 8 Steward of the Land at (250) 280-2277; Art Napoleon, Treaty 8 Steward of the Land at (250) 818-5626; Yvonne Tupper, Treaty 8 Steward of the Land at (250) 874 0079; On Cost of Delay: Robert McCullough, McCullough Research, at (503) 784-3758

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