West Moberly First Nations is pursuing a legal challenge against British Columbia, BC Hydro and Canada for infringement of constitutionally protected rights under Treaty No. 8. West Moberly is asking the court to stop construction of Site C dam and order BC Hydro to restore the Peace River to its natural state.
By standing in solidarity with West Moberly, you can stand for justice, help stop the dam, and heal the Peace.
“Just go somewhere else”
Site C dam, the costliest public project in B.C.’s history, threatens to eliminate the last portion of the Peace River, which is the main artery of West Moberly’s traditional territory. If completed, Site C will devastate this Indigenous Nation’s ability to live their traditional mode of life as promised by Treaty No. 8.
Site C is unsafe
BC Hydro has admitted publicly that there are significant geotechnical problems with the dam’s foundations, which caused them to designate the project health as “code red”. The B.C. government has had to initiate a project review to determine whether the dam can even be built and operated safely, and at what cost.
On February 26, 2021, Premier Horgan announced his government’s decision not to cancel the Site C project despite serious safety risks arising from bank instability at the proposed dam site. Instead, the government will plunge billions into a major redesign of the critical structures needed to support the proposed dam.
The Peace Fractured
The destruction caused by Site C would deepen past and ongoing harms. West Moberly is still living with the damage wrought by the two other unlawful hydroelectric dams blocking portions of the Peace River upstream from Site C. Sprawling over 1,800 km², the W.A.C. Bennett reservoir flooded hunting grounds and obliterated burial sites, ancient gathering places and other spiritual areas. Unable to access their ancient migration routes, what used to be a “sea of caribou” dwindled to a few tiny herds. Methylmercury - from the decaying vegetation submerged by the dam - has now been accumulating in fish within the reservoir and surrounding watershed for over 50 years, making them unsafe to eat to this day.
“The Crown has authorized so much industrial development in West Moberly’s traditional territory that we will lose any prospect of meaningfully exercising treaty rights if Site C is completed.”
-CHIEF ROLAND WILLSON, WEST MOBERLY FIRST NATIONS
Hearing on West Moberly motion for production of documents.
BC MOVES AHEAD WITH $16 BILLION PROJECT
BC government announces it is moving ahead with a new design of Site C, at a cost of $16 billion.
GEOTECHNICAL & SAFETY ISSUES IDENTIFIED
BC Hydro reports serious geotechnical and safety issues at the dam site. BC government appoints Peter Milburn to conduct a review, and commissions two geotechnical reports.
The court denies the injunction, but orders trial in the civil action to occur prior to Site C inundation of the Peace River. Trial date set for March 2022.
NOTICE OF CIVIL CLAIM FILED
West Moberly First Nations file a notice of civil claim alleging treaty infringement, as well as an interim injunction application.
SITE C TO BE CONTINUED
The B.C. government under John Horgan decides to continue Site C construction.
BC UTILITIES COMMISSION REVIEW
The newly-elected BC government initiates BC Utilities Commission review of Site C on the cost issue alone. The review found that costs of pursuing and terminating the project would be roughly equivalent.
May 2016: A group of over 200 Canadian scholars signs a letter raising serious concerns about the process used to approve the Site C dam. The Royal Society of Canada writes a separate supporting letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
JUDICIAL REVIEWS FILED
West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations file applications for judicial review challenging the consultation process related to the environmental assessment. The courts direct the parties to resolve matters related to Treaty infringement by way of civil action.
SITE C CONSTRUCTION BEGINS
FINAL INVESTMENT DECISION
The provincial government under Premier Christy Clark makes a final investment decision, approving $8.3 billion for Site C.
JRP EA Report
Joint Review Panel issues its Environmental Assessment Report which finds that BC Hydro did not clearly demonstrate the need for Site C, that it would cause a number of significant adverse effect.
October 2014: The federal and provincial governments approve Site C.
Joint Review Panel begins hearings on Site C
CLEAN ENERGY ACT
Clean Energy Act exempts large projects from BC Utilities Commission review. Premier Campbell announces plan to build Site C.
SITE C DEAD
BC Hydro CEO Mark Eliesen declares Site C “dead” because of cost and environmental impacts
SITE C REVIVED
BC Hydro revives the Site C proposal
SITE C REJECTED
BC Utilities Commission rejects BC Hydro’s first plan for Site C and calls for an analysis of all power options
BC and BC Hydro must disclose information on dam safety and cost. On April 30, the BC Supreme Court ordered B.C. and BC Hydro to disclose to West Moberly First Nations the full, unredacted Milburn…
On April 20th, over 300 people gathered on a warm spring evening to hear from West Moberly Chief Roland Willson, who presented a chilling map of cumulative impacts of industry on his Treaty 8 territory.…
Just as West Moberly First Nations was headed to court to argue their critical motion to compel B.C. to release key documents on dam safety and costs, a “Group of Seven” generous donors stepped up to offer $50K in matching funds.
The Dunne-za have occupied the lands along Peace River and its tributaries since time immemorial. The Dunne-za seasonal round encompasses the Peace River and its islands, as well as the Finlay, Parsnip, Halfway and Moberly Rivers. The Peace River, Wochii in the Dunne-za language, is the main artery that tied Dunne-za territory together.
The Dunne-za have practiced a “seasonal round” that utilizes dreams, prophecies, and traditional knowledge of the lands, waters, wildlife, and ecological processes in the Peace River Valley. Trails along the Peace River and its tributaries - including above where W.A.C. Bennett dam is now - were used to access hunting grounds, gathering places, and neighbouring peoples throughout this vast territory. The integrity of the Peace River is fundamental to West Moberly’s ability to maintain a traditional lifestyle.