Late last week, the federal Department of Fisheries and Ministry of Transport quietly issued permits to allow Site C construction. It was an incredibly disappointing move given that First Nations legal challenges are still before the courts.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip called the decision “an absolute betrayal.” Treaty 8 member Helen Knott laments “Broken promises, broken treaties, broken agreements.” She says such betrayal “looks like sitting by the water’s edge knowing full well you can’t eat fish from the river like your grandparents did.”
This is a pivotal moment in Trudeau’s political career. He and his ministers broke a promise that was at the heart of their platform: to develop a renewed relationship with Indigenous Peoples. It’s important to acknowledge our collective shock and sense of violation that the federal government dismissed the concerns of Treaty 8—and thousands upon thousands of citizens— with the stroke of a pen. It’s also important that we don’t succumb to apathy or despair.
On September 14, Prophet River and West Moberly First Nations are facing off against the Federal Government and BC Hydro over the Site C Dam in the Federal Court of Appeal. They will be asking the Court whether Canada violated the constitution when it gave environmental approval for the dam without determining – or even considering – whether the significant adverse environmental effects of the project would infringe Treaty rights.
Indigenous youth, leaders and elders will be travelling in a caravan from the Peace River to Montreal in a bus emblazoned with the slogan, “Honour the Promise”. We’re going to make a noise at the Federal Court on September 14th, and hand-deliver petitions on the day Parliament opens in our nation’s capital. Want to be a part of it? Like our Facebook page, share our posts, videos and news stories, and support the defenders of the Peace who are standing up for our common future. You can also join LeadNow in calling your MP and of course donate to the legal challenge here.
Let’s make it loud and clear that if the Trudeau government is serious about a renewed relationship with First Nations, it is unacceptable to issue construction permits while there’s an outstanding First Nations legal challenge about the Site C dam.
Thank you for standing with RAVEN and with Indigenous Peoples to protect the Peace.
Executive Director, RAVEN Trust