“If what’s going on up here,would happen down there, they would shut it down in a heartbeat. There’d be no messing.” ~ Chief Roland Willson on impact of Site C

On the eve of the start of the Supreme Court challenge to Site C in Vancouver tomorrow, I have some compelling quotes and commentary for you.

First is this note and excerpt sent in by Richard Smiley:

  A great quote by H.H. Bennett (see the bottom) from some brain candy (whose authors attached every bit of significance to the story as I do, seeing it rightly so as a preview to what we face – I have yet to see the documentary the book is based on) I hope it gets more circulation than my meager efforts can give it:


Just as the many people of the High Plains of America were the underdogs few fought for ( and many more tried to negate and conceal the story of), the people of the Peace River valley and all of the lands to be flooded have become the underdogs of B.C. as new leaders wilfully repeat great mistakes of history that left dark legacies they claim now to try & repair…7

Which leads me to the main portion of this post.

Read. Reflect. And please share.


 Since the December 11, 2017 decision by Premier John Horgan to proceed with Site C dam, I have spent many hours researching about the project, the area, indigenous rights, and about energy. I’m no expert in this area, however I am more convinced than ever that proceeding with Site C dam is the wrong decision and should be stopped.

The expert affidavit that was recently submitted to the BC Supreme Court by 40+ year civil engineer Harvey Elwin, based on BC Hydro’s own super secret documents (it’s a publicly owned crown corporation and shouldn’t be top secret!), show that the project is having major geotechnical issues and facing delays in finishing. Laila has documented extensively on this for years.

Last week I had the opportunity to visit the West Moberly First Nation and sat down with Chief Roland Willson. This First Nation is one of two who will be in BC Supreme Court up against the province of British Columbia and BC Hydro, trying to get an injunction to stop work in areas they’ve identified as critical to their way of life. The case starts July 23, 2018 at the BC Supreme Court in Vancouver. There’s a support rally beforehand outside starting at 0900. People may be allowed into the courtroom, but have to be inside by 0945. Court starts at 1000.( I don’t think they’re too keen on in and outs, so be prepared to be in for a few hours.) The case is expected to run about three weeks.

Of note, I have included only part of my interview with Chief Willson, respecting the upcoming court case. I want to thank Laila Yuile for giving me the opportunity to share this entry on her blog. In the coming days, I will also share a photo journal entry of my trip to the heartbreakingly beautiful Peace River Valley. ~ Louise Gilfoy

Louise Gilfoy: How will Site C dam impact West Moberly First Nation? Fish? Caribou?

Chief Willson:

“Well,the physical footprint of the dam is a little bit aways from us but near the construction the dam, the Moberly River flows into the Peace. So when they inundate Site C, it’ll back the water up in the Moberly River which comes out of the lake here, which will introduce mercury laden fish into our lake. Right now we are on conservation measures on lake trout because it’s been over-harvested. The government ran a commercial fishery off of this lake in the 50’s to help with the war effort to feed the troops overseas. And they overharvested the fish here in this lake and another lake, Gwillam Lake. We’ve been working with the province trying to recover the lake trout. Now they’re talking about introducing methylmercury into us and making a conscious decision to poison the lake, poison the fish that we eat out of there.


One big thing impact that happened when they did that for the WAC Bennett Dam and flooded Williston reservoir is that all the fish that touch that reservoir are full of mercury. And mercury poses a huge health problem.

They’ve wiped out the caribou here. There’s 219 caribou left in the South Peace. We used to have thousands of them. We can’t harvest them anymore. We had to go to court with BC to try to get protection measures put in place. They’re identified under the Species at Risk and will be moved from Threatened to Endangered. We’re supposed to be reversing that trend. But B.C. is wiping them off as fast as we can try to stop them.

When you look at it,  all the animals that live here use that Peace River corridor. That’s the corridor that everything revolves around.

We’re already seeing a decline in moose (from the WAC Bennett Dam and Williston Reservoir). We can’t eat any of the fish out of the Willison Reservoir or any of the rivers or creeks that come into the reservoir, which is the third biggest man-made body of water in North America. It touches everything around here.

The Peace River is the main artery that runs through our territory. Everything connects to it. And they’re going to dam up the last little bit of it that we have left that’s functional. For what? To produce power so we can sell it to the Alberta tarsands?

Reconciliation is about fixing the wrongs of the past. And to stand there and say, “Well, we’re going to reconcile going forwards,” is to say, “We’re going to continue to violate but then we’ll fix it.” That’s an acknowledgment that they’re not changing their ways… they’re just going to give us give us something for it.


The reality of the fact is we’ve got probably 40,000 voters that live in northeastern B.C., and there’s a million voters that live in Vancouver and they don’t want a pipeline going through there.

That’s how they can shut down Burrard thermal.

Because the guys who are driving around in their SUV’s, sipping their lattes, don’t want to look at this big ugly mess and actually have the consequences of their actions, of leaving their lights on and all this stuff.

They don’t want to see that ugliness.

They want to keep everything pretty and put the mess in someone else’s backyard. And that’s Kinder Morgan.

They don’t want to see that ugly mess coming in there and that may the threat of a spill on the river.

“Put it up there!” ( they say)  “There’s nobody up “there”.”

But that’s where we are. We’re up “there”. We’re on the other side of the fence.

We’re the sacrifice zone.

Because the general population doesn’t want to reminded of the consequences of running your air conditioner 24 hours a day. Or you know, driving their SUV to their 6000 foot houses and there’s only two people there.

You know that’s the environmental footprint that they bring to the table. We all have to live with the consequences of that.

If what’s going on up here, would happen down there…they would shut it down in a heartbeat. There’d be no messing.

I saw that little spill that they had in Kitsilano. They had it cleaned up it within like a month, grass growing again and stuff like that. We’ve had spills happening up here since 2000. Nobody’s paying attention.

We raise it and we get flagged as The Voices of No. Christy Clark stands up and tells everybody that the people of the northeast are The Voices of No like we’re opposed to development.”

Louise Gilfoy: Is Site C clean or green energy?

Chief Willson:

It’s not green energy. It’s renewable energy as long as the river continuously flows. But it’s not green. Destroying the valley to produce that energy? There’s nothing green about that. There’s enough Class One and Class Two agricultural land in that valley that could feed over a million  people with food produce production. Destroying that is not green at all.

The creation of the power is going to go and facilitate greenhouse gas producing industries: the shale gas development and the coal mining development. Just before Christy Clark lost her job she was over in Alberta trying to sell so-called clean energy to the Alberta tar sands, which is the world’s leading producer of greenhouse gas emissions. So you can’t tell any of us that destroying that river valley to sell power to greenhouse emitting industries is green. There’s nothing green about that.

Where we are sitting today, this is Treaty 8 territory. There are constitutionally protected treaty rights in place. You know, from the very beginning of this thing, we’ve said that we’re not opposed to the creation of the energy that Site C is to create. What we are opposed to is the destruction of the valley. And we wanted to sit down at the very beginning and have the talks about the alternative packages that they’re not willing to talk about. And we never got that opportunity.

When you look at the federal cabinet, Governors in Council, the one rule that they have – that they are not allowed to violate – is they are not allowed to make any decisions that violate or impact the Constitution of Canada.

Treaty rights are constitutionally protected rights. So they are part of the Constitution. And for Canada to make a decision for Site C without doing a (Sparrow Analysis) infringement test is a violation of the Constitution.

Louise Gilfoy: Do you think that’s why the federal government pulled out of the case against you?

Chief Willson: 

“No, that’s not why they pulled out. Their deal with Christy Clark didn’t go over with John Horgan. And the other aspect of that is it’s hard for Canada to stand there and wave the flag on reconciliation when they’re fighting us in court over our rights. Canada has lost their security council seat at the United Nations and they’re trying to get it back and they’re asking some pretty hard questions of them right now on Truth and Reconciliation, UNDRIP, and racism. They’re being asked three main questions and Canada doesn’t have answers. It all has to do around the treatment of Aboriginal people.”





Backstory: https://lailayuile.com/2018/07/19/new-documents-expert-testimony-report-offer-chilling-contradiction-to-horgan-mungall-why-the-ndp-must-halt-site-c-now-force-hydro-to-come-clean/

16 thoughts on ““If what’s going on up here,would happen down there, they would shut it down in a heartbeat. There’d be no messing.” ~ Chief Roland Willson on impact of Site C

  1. AMAZING and thank you.

    This outlines clearly what happens when land is flooded. It destroys the land, the animals and the society which relies on it. The south really doesn’t care. They didn’t care back in the day when they flooded land for power in the Kootenay, (nice old black and white documentary on the impact of that on farming families–it can make you cry)

    The short doc. which was run on knowledge net work regarding the flooding to create Williston Lake for the Bennett Dam, clearly demonstrates the devastation on the First Nations People.

    And some where there is a government document, on paper, which outlines the death and destruction, and poverty resulting from a dam visited upon a group of First Nations people. It was passed to me to read back in the 1980s. I don’t remember the name of it or the Band, but what it outlined was the destruction of a people, which was willfully done by the Provincial government at the time and had done nothing since to help the people they destroyed.

    This time no government can say, we don’t know what this will do to the land, animals and people. If I’ve seen two documentaries and read a “paper” on the subject, the government knows and it just doesn’t care.

    Horgan needs to stop Site C or he too will be lumped in with WAC Bennett when it comes to the genocide of First Nations. For the farmers whose lives were destroyed by the Kootenay dams, well that will be repeated when this dam goes into production.

    The Williston Dam is the size of France. That is a lot of land to destroy. We need to stop. This isn’t for the benefit of the people of B.C. This is for the benefit of oil/gas/tar companies and corporations involved in building this dam. It costs $10B and that is a lot of loose change to be tossing around to destroy the people who live in this area.

    Never thought I’d live long enough to see an NDP government destroy as much as a Socred/B.C.Lieberal government did. Democracy may be majority rule, but it is not supposed to be at the expense, death and destruction of a minority.


  2. Than you Laila.
    I believed the BC NDP and for the first time in my sixty-eight years I donated to a political party. Since John and company caved I’ve done my best to spread the word that they can no longer be trusted. If Site C proceeds….Horgan will wear this as his legacy. He had every opportunity to legitimately shut it down.


    1. Remind that the BC Green Party holds the balance of power in support of the BC NDP minority government. One of its major campaign platforms was to shut down Site-C but when the NDP decided to complete it the Greens did not use their balance of power to force a reversal of that decision. It seems the Greens did not want to risk toppling the government before the electoral-systems Referendum upcoming in November because if proportional representation prevails the Greens stand to gain substantially more seats in a subsequent election (and they may even topple the government at first opportunity to precipitate an early election if pro-rep prevails).

      The hung parliament we elected—by the longstanding single-member-plurality electoral system, incidentally—is effectively a dry-run example of what pro-rep elections would result in: two or more parties are often needed to form a government, and a small party with only a few seats can end up holding the balance of power. The Greens have been persistent and vocal proponents of pro-rep, naturally, because its longtime single-digit popularity makes it very difficult for them to win seats under the SMP electoral system.

      Yet the Greens’ behaviour in this minority government has revealed two of pro-rep’s weakest and most criticized aspects: a small party can have influence disproportionately greater than its actual democratic weight if it holds the balance of power and parties in hung parliaments may do what’s best for themselves as partisans rather than what’s best for all citizens of BC.

      Site-C exemplifies these two concerns and what pro-rep could result in.

      The difference between hung parliaments elected by either pro-rep or SMP is that, with SMP, minorities or hung parliaments are rare, whereas they are almost always elected by pro-rep.

      To be fair, we don’t know the exact details about why the NDP decided to complete Site-C, or why the Greens did not threaten to withdraw their support of the NDP minority government in defence of their major campaign promise to shut the dam project down. Indeed, the BC Liberal government which commissioned Site-C stacked BC Hydro’s executive with partisan lackeys who subsequently falsified rationales for building it and had otherwise been breaching the public trust vis a vis stashing impolitic debt in the venerable public enterprise and permitting parasitic IPP payments for privately generated power which is both uncompetitive on the open market (but which the BC Liberals legislatively forced BC Hydro to buy, no matter what the cost) and unnecessary for BC’s electricity needs. Naturally the BC Liberal government kept as much of these details secret, and the new NDP-Green government could not have been apprised of them until after the BC Liberals were defeated in a vote of confidence last year.

      We do also note, however, that some of these BC Liberal appointments to the BC Hydro executive still exist and most details about Site-C are still redacted out of FOI requests despite the change in government.

      We have to remember, though, that the NDP has taken a tremendous hit to their popularity—even provoked longtime members to tear up their memberships—because of its decision to complete Site-C. We have to ask —or guess—what would possess the government to forgo any support, especially considering the facts that the NDP did not significantly increase their vote-count in the last election, that the BC liberals were virtually tied with the NDP, and that the erosion of NDP support towards the Greens has continued exponentially.

      We are left wondering what it is about Site-C—a dog by every feasibility assessment—that would force the NDP to risk losing support from the thinnest of margins it has now, and keep those details from the public. Leaving the electorate to speculate and suspect seems doubly risky. Something doesn’t make sense.

      Is it possible the NDP is sandbagging on Site-C (no pun intended) until it can see the result of the electoral-systems Referendum? Lest we forget, the NDP has always been sensitive to the accusation from its partisan rivals that it’s weak on jobs. Having already committed to shutting down the TMX pipeline —and suffered the “job killer” charge as a result—the Site-C decision might have seemed the more politic to the NDP in the circumstance, that is, to protect jobs—and, hopefully, steal a march on the BC Liberals in the next election, whenever it comes, depending on the Referendum. Yet TMX might go ahead despite BC government protest. Could Horgan be waiting for his adversaries to crow about TMX jobs before revisiting Site-C?


      1. I never believed Horgan would shut site c down but he was the only remotely realistic chance at stopping it. He is a pro lng booster and he has now been more open about this since election, veering away from his criticism of Clark on lng and surpassing her with new industry subsidies AND the legislative change that makes royalties now a secret from the public.

        I do believe Horgans advisors would have him push for electrification of the north eastern oil and gas operations also via a deep subsidy in rates to attempt to justify site c.

        But hey. Thats just me 😉


  3. What a nice surprise Laila, to see you in print again. Be kind to yourself.

    I can’t help wondering if Premier Horgan isn’t taking a very risky gamble, in hoping the Supreme Court will grant the sought after injunction; if granted he can save face and votes. If it goes the other way, he and the NDP will have an eternal mess on their faces, greater than that of the Elephant Bird egg.

    Another thing I keep wondering is where this province would be today, if Carole James had not been bushwhacked by Jenny Who?

    If anyone is familiar with Supreme Court Justice Milman, I’d like to hear it.


    1. An interesting application/bio, thanks. Let us hope this bit is in his veins and has him in touch with the land and it’s people:
      “Non-Legal Work Experience:
      Archaeologist, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, 1987-1988 (area supervisor at archaeological excavations at Tel Beth Shean)”


      1. That’s my hope. A man who has this history, imo, holds a perspective and understanding of the intrinsic value of things that cannot be assigned a monetary value.

        But then again I’m a bit of an optimist this way 😉 The spirit of the law is just as important as the rule of law.


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