Chief Roland Willson, of West Moberly First Nation, said his people celebrated the 100th anniversary of Treaty #8 in 2014. One of the provisions is that they will be allowed to use the land about to be submerged by the Site C Dam “as long as the sun shines, the grass grows and the river flows.” This appears to be the Treaty Canada wants to forget.
It has been eight days since the RCMP gunned down a demonstrator in Dawson Creek. According to the Independent Investigations Office, he “approached officers in an aggressive manner and when he did not comply with directions and commands, he was shot.” It is the latest in a series of actions, which appear to have began with the BC government’s decision to break Treaty #8. Though this aspect of the project is not often talked about, the terms of the treaty seem clear. First Nations were to have use of the lands about to be submerged as long as the sun shines, the grass grows and the river flows. So how is proceeding with Site C not breaking a treaty?
Though construction on British Columbia’s W.A.C. Bennet dam began 54 years ago, fish are still so contaminated with mercury they are unfit for human consumption. Chief Roland Willson, of West Moberly First Nation, said BC started issuing health advisories after the dam was built. On May 11, 2015, he brought 200 pounds of contaminated bull trout to the legislature lawn for a press conference calling on the B.C. government to reverse its decision to approve the controversial $9 billion Site C dam. Willson said poisoning fish is a violation of Treaty #8.
There are many reasons to oppose the proposed Site C dam. It will flood what is reputedly some of the province’s most promising farmland. Most of the inhabitants of the Peace River Area, where the dam would be built, oppose the project. There are alternative energy sources, such as geothermal, which BC Hydro has not explored. The most serious objection, however, is BC may break a treaty if they build the Site C Dam.
The First Nations that signed treaty #8, in 1914, were promised the right to continue with their traditional way of life “for as long as the sun shines, the grass grows and the rivers flow.” The antiquity of their presence site is evidenced by prehistoric chert arrowheads, burials and local tradition. It has continued into modern times as a summer gathering place.When BC Hydro dams the Peace River, on site C, they will be taking away lands on which these people have hunted, fished and gathered their traditional medicine plants. Of Course a century ago no one knew that this could become one of the most promising liquid natural gas fields in the world. Continue reading Site C, “As long as the Sun Shines, the Grass Grows & the Rivers Flow”→