Council of Canadians signs joint letter opposing Site C dam

AJ Klien and Emma Lui
Vancouver-based Council of Canadians political staff AJ Klein and Emma Lui express their solidarity with Treaty 8 land defenders opposed to the Site C dam.

The Council of Canadians joined with more than 25 organizations today in an open letter calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take immediate action to halt construction of the Site C dam.

Site C is a proposed 60-metre high, 1,050-metre-long earth-filled dam and hydroelectric generation station on the Peace River between the communities of Hudson's Hope and Taylor on Treaty 8 territory in northeastern British Columbia. It would create an 83-kilometre-long reservoir and flood about 5,550 hectares of agricultural land southwest of Fort St. John. It would also submerge 78 First Nations heritage sites, including burial grounds and places of cultural and spiritual significance. Logging and land clearing for the dam began this summer, without consent from Treaty 8, but major construction on the dam is not yet underway.

The letter, which is backed by Amnesty International, the David Suzuki Foundation, Sierra Club BC, the Blue Planet Project and numerous other groups, denounces the hydro-electric dam as a violation of rights protected under Treaty 8, the Canadian Constitution, and international human rights law. A joint federal-provincial environmental impact assessment panel concluded that the Site C dam would severely and permanently undermine Indigenous peoples’ use of the land and destroy important cultural sites and a unique ecosystem. The letter calls on the federal government to rescind all permits related to the construction of the dam and to review the previous government’s decision to approve the project despite its impact on Treaty rights.

The letter says, "Ignoring the rights of Indigenous peoples can never be justified. Furthermore, in this day and age there are far less damaging and less costly methods that could be used to meet British Columbia’s energy needs - many of which would create more jobs than Site C. ...Energy projects that violate human rights are not clean or green."

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow says, "Prime Minister Trudeau and his government made a clear public commitment to building a new relationship with Indigenous peoples based on respect for the Treaties, the Constitution, and international human rights law. If it intends to keep that promise, the federal government needs to take immediate, decisive action on Site C."

The open letter can be read here.

Further reading
Council of Canadians supports First Nations opposition to Site C dam (January 20, 2016)
First Nations tell Trudeau to stop Site C, the era of destroying rivers should be over (October 22, 2015)
Council of Canadians opposes Site C Dam (May 8, 2014)