Dear Prime Minister Harper, Premier Clark, and Mrs. McDonald:
Enclosed, please find a copy of UBCIC Resolution 2015-14 “Support for Treaty 8 Tribal Leadership’s Opposition to Site C” which was presented, affirmed and endorsed unanimously by the UBCIC Chiefs Council on February 13th, 2015.
We are extremely alarmed that the ill-conceived and unilaterally opposed Site C Dam project will flood over 5000 hectares of Treaty 8 First Nations territories, creating a reservoir over 80 kilometres long. Decision-making in relation to this project engages jurisdiction of Treaty 8 First Nations, thus engaging section 35(1) of the Canadian constitution, which recognizes and affirms Aboriginal and Treaty Rights. Further, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which was endorsed by Canada on November 12, 2010, clearly provides a framework for engagement with Indigenous peoples and requirement of their free, prior and informed consent for any State projects which may impact them, and also recognizes Indigenous rights related to their traditionally owned or otherwise occupied and used lands, territories, water and coastal areas and other resources.
Provincial and federal governments have a constitutional duty to consult and accommodate Treaty 8 First Nations in making decisions in relation to the Site C Dam project, and they must obtain consent from Treaty 8 First Nations consistent with the recent Tsilhqot’in decision and with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Province’s decision to proceed with the Site C Dam was made without meaningful consultation with Treaty 8 First Nations, and without their consent. Further, commitment to build the Site C Dam without achieving the free, prior and informed consent of Treaty 8 First Nations is a violation of the Indigenous rights of the Treaty 8 First Nations. The Site C dam is an infringement of the Treaty 8 First Nations Treaty rights that will likely have significantly negative impacts on the ability of Treaty 8 First Nations to exercise their constitutionally-protected Treaty rights to harvest and to engage in various traditional activities.
We are aware that there have been numerous flaws in the way the Crown has approached First Nations consultation on the Site C Dam. BC Environment Minister Mary Polak has suggested that First Nations do not have a veto on the Site C Dam project and that mitigation and accommodation measures have been included in the province’s environmental assessment certificate for the project. Despite a total lack of consent from Treaty 8 First Nations, both provincial and federal governments issued environmental approvals for Site C.
By Resolution 2015-14, the UBCIC Chiefs Council unequivocally supports Treaty 8 tribal leadership in their opposition to the proposed Site C Dam project and their assessment that the proposed project is a threat to their ability to exercise their constitutionally-protected Treaty rights, and to the survival of their culture and people. Further, the UBCIC Chiefs Council urges the provincial and federal governments to immediately cease proceeding with the proposed Site C Dam project, notwithstanding having issued environmental approvals.
On behalf of the UNION OF BC INDIAN CHIEFS
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip
Chief Robert Chamberlin
Kukpi7 Judy Wilson
Treaty 8 Tribal Council
UBCIC Chiefs Council
Full letter and Resolution 2015-14: