The fight to stop the construction of BC Hydro’s controversial Site C Dam continues, as concerned members of the public protest outside BC Hydro headquarters in downtown Vancouver. One young woman, Kristin Henry, is on day 18 of a hunger strike in opposition to the project.
“It’s simple - we don’t need the energy from the dam, but we need everything that the dam is going to destroy”, said the tired but resolute Henry. She is calling for an immediate halt to the dam’s construction until the Treaty 8 First Nations have been appropriately consulted, the current court cases by the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations have concluded, and the BC Utilities Commission has completed an independent review of the project.
Henry is not alone in her disapproval - her hunger strike is in solidarity with Treaty 8 First Nations, who have been actively engaged for years in the struggle to defend their rights and territories from the threat of Site C. Treaty 8 members, with help from local farmers and supporters, initiated a peaceful protest camp in December of last year, on traditional territory near the construction site of the mega project.
For two months the land defenders at the Rocky Mountain fort protest camp braved the cold to protect not only some of the most fertile agricultural land in the province, but also one of the largest and most critical wildlife corridors on the continent. A Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative report concluded that the cumulative impacts of Site C “are highly significant for all species.” Wolves are predicted to suffer a loss of 22 per cent of landscape productivity, caribou 31 to 37 per cent, and grizzlies 42 to 44 per cent. The Peace river valley is also home to incredible old growth boreal forests and the treaty rights and cultural heritage of the Treaty 8 First Nations. The 60 meter high dam would destroy all of this and flood over 100 km of the valley, an area equivalent to 14 Stanley Parks. Beyond that, opponents say the dam will support an expanded fossil fuel industry in the province, and taxpayers will be left to foot the over $8 billion bill for the mega project.
In late February, the BC Supreme Court ruled to grant BC Hydro an injunction to remove protestors from the dam site, ironically stating that the peaceful protest was causing irreparable harm…to the utility company’s profits, that is. While BC Hydro may have been able to remove the protestors from the land, they cannot remove the love of the land from those who defend it. The Treaty 8 First Nations courageously continue their fight to protect their homeland against the Site C Dam - a fight which is now before the Federal Court of Canada. You can show your support by contributing to their legal defence fund.
It’s time the provincial government honour the treaties and heed the concerns of those who elected them, as opposition to Site C isn’t going away, it’s right at their door step.