OTTAWA, Sept. 12, 2016 /CNW/ - The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) restated its full support for Treaty 8 First Nations who oppose the Site C dam project in northern British Columbia, as the Federal Court of Appeal hears their case today in Montreal. AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde expressed his support for the Prophet River and West Moberly First Nations in their legal battle to overturn federal approvals of the controversial hydroelectric project.
"First Nations have inherent rights and sacred responsibilities to our traditional territories and these rights and responsibilities must be respected and upheld by all governments," said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. "The Site C dam project threatens to flood thousands of acres in Treaty 8 territory. This is a violation of First Nations' inherent and Treaty rights. The standard of free, prior and informed consent in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples must be upheld."
AFN British Columbia Regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson stated: "The Crown's own environmental impact assessment concluded that the Site C dam will undermine Indigenous rights. This project will destroy burial sites, farmland, hunting and gathering places and sacred sites. Everyone who believes in the rule of law should stand with us in upholding First Nations' constitutionally protected rights."
Regional Chief Gottfriedson will join the Justice for the Peace Caravan when it arrives in Ottawa on Tuesday, September 13, for a rally and press conference on Parliament Hill. The Caravan began a week ago in Fort St. John, B.C.
In the afternoon of September 13th, a Public Forum entitled Keeping the promise: The Site C dam, Treaty rights, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples will take place at the University of Ottawa. The Forum will examine the legal struggle to protect the rights of First Nations threatened by the construction of the Site C hydro-electric dam in Treaty 8 territory.
In July 2015, Chiefs from across the country passed by consensus an AFN resolution supporting Treaty 8 in their opposition to the Site C Dam and their fight for cultural survival and respect of their inherent and Treaty rights.
More information about the Justice for the Peace Caravan is available at: https://www.facebook.com/justiceforthepeacecaravan/?hc_ref=PAGES_TIMELINE&fref=nf%C2%A0
The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.
SOURCE Assembly of First Nations
For further information: Jenn Jefferys, Communications Officer, 613-241-6789 ext. 110, 613-222-9656 (cell), [email protected]