Guest post: Journey to the sacrifice zone of site C
** As the Moberly/Prophet River Site C treaty infringement injunction hearings continue this week in Vancouver, I was reminded of how little many people still know about the area, the people & wildlife impacted by the dam. I saw her photos a while ago and Louise was kind to share them here in this photoblog for those who haven’t seen them.
Please follow the #sitec hashtag and @lidsville on twitter for latest updates from court this week & https://witnessforthepeace.ca/updates-from-the-site-c-injunction-hearing/ for complete, routine updates**
Since that devastating day on December 11, 2017 when John Horgan announced his intention to continue building site c (despite all the logic against proceeding and all the vows to uphold UNDRIP), I have spent a lot of time learning about Site C. Not just the dam, but also about the area, the people, and what it will mean for taxpayers and ratepayers in the future. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind: Site C dam should be stopped.
This year for our summer vacation, my husband and I took our four year old son to the Peace River Valley for five days. We flew into Fort St John, rented a car, then drove towards Hudson’s Hope where we rented a motel room for the night.
The Peace River Valley area is really beautiful. I’ve been all over our beautiful province of British Columbia.The Peace River Valley is one of the most stunning places I’ve been in BC.
Part way along our drive, we rounded a bend on the highway. We were at the top of a large hill when I recognized the Boon’s farm with their cattle, very modest home, and outbuildings. I said to my husband, “Turn in here! I know these people.” My husband, feeling hesitant about our unscheduled visit, reluctantly turned into the property.
We drove up the long hill to their home and part way up,we saw the “flood line” marker that shows the depth that the Peace River Valley will flood to once Site C goes full pool (floods the valley). We arrived at the small white house – built by Arlene’s grandfather – and we knocked on the door and were met by the genuine warmth of Ken and Arlene.
When we stood near the Yellow Stakes, we were able to visualise the destruction that will now happen at the hands of John Horgan for the Site C dam. Their farm will erode and their home and outbuildings – which include a small museum called the Jim Watson Museum and a solar-powered guest cabin – will likely be gone. They are being expropriated from a large portion of their land with a date to be determined.
I couldn’t help it and got emotional thinking of this, but was able to catch myself with just a few tears before I burst into full on “ugly cry”. Arlene said to me, “Thank you so much for coming up. It’s so comforting knowing that people care about us way up here.”
(You should read about the still-pending – despite new BCNDP government – SLAPP suit against them.)
The Boons invited us to join them and a group of other people the next day to pound some fresh yellow stakes in the ground.
The Stake in the Peace campaign stemmed from an instance around Christmas of 2016. BC Hydro spiked a yellow stake next to their home to mark where the highway would go. For every $100 that is donated to the Stake in the Peace campaign, a donor will have a yellow stake with their name pounded into the Boons property.
100% of proceeds now go to the legal fight by the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations. Please donate!
We went back the next day and helped with planting stakes. I recognized many of the names from Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Belegrade, Craig Benjamin from Amnesty International, the founder of the ALR Harold Steves, Laila Yuile, and many others.
There were three stakes missing: John Horgan, Lana Popham, and George Heyman.
All had stood on the very ground I was on at one point in support of stopping Site C. Horgan even held a sign that said “Site C Sucks” while posing with Ken Boon. Those three had their stakes returned at the legislature in January 2018.
Later that day we went to Esther Pederson’s farm in Fort St John. Her farm has a lookout point that is directly above Site C. The Pederson’s will lose a large portion of their farm including where their house is once Site C dam goes to full pool. It was pretty shocking seeing the site.
In the video attached is resident Art Hadland speaking in the background. He discusses the shale that BC Hydro is now freely admitting the dam is being embedded into. Below you will see photos of the unstable slopes along the Peace River Valley. This is partly why the Site C dam was rejected in the 1980’s and 1990’s after reviews were done. It was uneconomic then and it’s even less economic now.
The next day we attended the Paddle for the Peace.
The Prophet River First Nation hosted the breakfast in the morning before the Paddle before everyone headed out. We didn’t paddle because we didn’t have a boat. But we were able to get some good photos of the event. It was a smaller than previous years event and it was clear there was a sense of mourning. There were farmers who faced near-imminent expropriation, indigenous leaders, area politicians, journalists, and a lot of supporters from various places. At one point Ken Boon said of John Horgan’s decision, “It’s bullshit.” I can’t agree more.
On one of our final days in the area, we stopped by West Moberly First Nation and say down with Chief Roland Willson. Unfortunately I did not get many photos. However, I did interview the Chief. You can read that here. He pointed out the health centre they are in the process of building. It will be 100% passive energy. I hope to go up again, so next time I will get photos!
At the end of this photoblog entry are a couple of videos.
The first is from a lookout near the Boons property. It shows the magnificence of the Peace River Valley. Nearly everything you see in the video will be destroyed by the flooding of the valley for this dam.
The second video is Site C itself, taken from the look out at Esther Pederson’s farm. To the right in the video you can see the mouth of Moberly River which will back up and contaminate Moberly Lake. Also to the right you can see cleared land which was the historic Rocky Mountain Fort.
The third video was taken from West Moberly First Nation of Moberly Lake.
I really want to emphasize that it hit me hard seeing the devastation the people and this area has suffered for the convenience of us in the south. This wouldn’t happen in a more populated area where more voters are. It truly is the “sacrifice zone” and it shouldn’t be. The Peace River Valley and the people of the area should be respected.
Site C dam should be stopped.
The Peace River Valley
Site C Dam
Moberly Lake, view from West Moberly First Nation