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.
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?
“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?
“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?
“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.”