(Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver, B.C. – May 14, 2018) The Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) welcomes the federal government’s recent announcement that they will not oppose the court application for an injunction to suspend construction on the Site C Dam while the court determines if flooding the Peace River would violate the rights of the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations under Treaty 8.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the UBCIC stated “Quite frankly, this is what we have been calling on both federal and provincial governments to do on Site C. While Canada has not consented to the injunction, it is not opposing it either. This means Canada is actually choosing not to defend the project against the immediate suspension requested by West Moberly First Nations.” Grand Chief Phillip continued, “The ball is now in the Premier’s court. We call on Premier Horgan to immediately direct his lawyers to follow Canada’s lead and to withdraw their opposition to this injunction. We call on the Premier to instruct BC Hydro to develop plans to immediately suspend all project activities until the Treaty infringement issues are finally addressed and resolved.”
“We acknowledge and thank the Treaty 8 First Nations for their resolute commitment to ensuring that Constitutionally protected Title, Rights and Treaty Rights in Canada are upheld,” stated Chief Bob Chamberlin, Vice-President of the UBCIC. “With the federal and provincial governments both endorsing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the TRC’s 94 Calls to Action, it is time for both governments to ‘walk the walk’ and ensure that any project proceeding on Indigenous territory has the free, prior and informed consent of those impacted. Justice Minister and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould recently said that she would be releasing a new litigation directive to her department regarding Section 35 rights, critically aiming to re-position Canada’s legal approach with the courts as a ‘last resort to be turned to only in increasingly rare circumstances.’ We are cautiously optimistic that Canada’s announcement regarding Site C is the first concrete step toward reconciliation in this way and look to BC to follow suit.”
Chief Judy Wilson, Secretary-Treasurer of the UBCIC concluded, “Canada and BC must stop picking and choosing when they will uphold and respect Indigenous Title, Rights and Treaty Rights. Canada must apply the same respect for Rights that they are demonstrating in Site C, to their approval and promotion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion projects- a project which will never have the consent of all impacted First Nations along the pipeline route. Similarly, BC must apply the same respect for Rights that they are demonstrating in their opposition to Kinder Morgan, to Site C. True reconciliation must be consistent and predictable, and grounded in respect for our inherent Title and Rights, and Treaty Rights.”
Chief Bob Chamberlin, Union of BC Indian Chiefs
Phone: (250) 974-8282
Chief Judy Wilson, Union of BC Indian Chiefs
Phone: (250) 320-7738