Justice for Peace Caravan tells Trudeau: Keep your promises to First Nations 

Members of the Treat 8 "Justice for the Peace" Caravan (Photo: Gary McNutt)
Members of the Treat 8 “Justice for the Peace” Caravan (Photo: Gary McNutt)

Submitted by Andrea Palframan

On September 12, the Federal Court of Appeal in Montreal will hear the latest legal challenge to the massive Site C hydroelectric dam already under construction on Treaty 8 territory in northeast British Columbia. First Nations community members from Treaty 8 are travelling on a caravan across Canada to focus attention of the importance of this case to the rights of all treaty nations and to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promised new relationship with First Nations.
The Justice for the Peace caravan has been supported by LeadNow and is endorsed by the Assembly of First Nations British Columbia, the First Nations Leadership Summit, and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.
Prophet River and West Moberly First Nations have been fighting the Site C hydroelectric dam project for close to five decades. Site C is a disastrous plan to build a giant dam in the Peace River Valley of northeastern BC. It’s an $8.8 billion project that will flood 83 km of farmland, drown wildlife habitat, and trample indigenous rights — all to supply electricity for dirty tar sands extraction and fracking.
Site C Dam is a litmus test of the commitments made by Canada to have a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with First Nations. Treaty 8 Justice for the Peace Caravan are joining thousands of supporters in calling for a respectful relationship that honours Treaties and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, head of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, called the federal government’s permitting of the Site-C Dam “an absolute betrayal of all of the commitments and promises Prime Minister Trudeau made during the last election.” He called on young people to be a part of history by stepping up and taking action to protect the Peace River: and they are.
Youth delegate Helen Knott, who is blogging about the caravan at reclaimthewarrior.wordpress.com, says that although dam construction is underway, “Only a small fraction of land has been cleared and the earth is so resilient that it has already begun to heal itself. It is not too late to stop this dam. It can and will be stopped.”
Says Caleb Behn, Treaty 8 member and Executive Director of Keepers of the Water:
[quote]We are the heart and soul of the oil and gas economy in this country. We have given coal. We have given oil. We have given trees. My dad went to residential school. We gave souls…And this is how you’re going to treat us in the 21st century? This is the kind of hypocrisy that makes me question the wisdom of my ancestors choosing to sign on to treaties.[/quote]
With their Justice for the Peace Caravan, Treay 8 members and their allies are 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.
The West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations are appealing a federal Judge’s decision to approve the construction of Site-C despite the project’s violation of their constitutionally-protected rights to hunt, fish, and trap. After months of waiting for a trial date, they’re appearing in court on September 12. When the House of Commons resumes sitting a few days later, they’ll head to Ottawa to deliver 20,000+ petition signatures and meet with key Ministers on the file.
“We’ve raised nearly $300,000 for Treaty 8 First Nations’ legal challenges,” says Susan Smitten, executive director of RAVEN Trust.
[quote]The caravan is a powerful demonstration of unity and hope, and what it means to bring people together to support communities who are on the frontline of disastrous projects like the Site C dam. Legal challenges are expensive, and a major financial burden on First Nations. But Treaty rights of First Nations offer some of the strongest environmental protections in the world.  They stand a good chance of victory in the courts.[/quote]
The cross-country Justice for the Peace Caravan will stop in communities all across Canada, sharing stories, connecting struggles, and building support for the just resolution of the Treaty 8 First Nations’ case against the Site-C dam. 4,432km is a long way to go.
To follow the caravan, go to nosite-c.com


About Damien Gillis

Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada's wild salmon - working with many environmental organizations in BC and around the world. He is the co-founder, along with Rafe Mair, of The Common Sense Canadian, and a board member of both the BC Environmental Network and the Haig-Brown Institute.

6 thoughts on “Justice for Peace Caravan tells Trudeau: Keep your promises to First Nations 

  1. The Dam will be built.
    Not because Christy needs votes.
    Not because Trudeau needs votes.
    Because, deep down , they dont care about you and I
    Big Business needs govt handouts in the form of corporate welfare. ie Unnecessary, Govt funded mega projects.
    So Big Business donates truck loads of money to election campaigns…and when “their” man or woman” is elected…..they call in the debt.

    Big Business , Govt , Money and megaprojects………its that simple

    End the Lobbying and the truckloads of corrupting cash that rains down on all political parties and you’ll end the useless, polluting megaprojects.

  2. Trudeau has not only broken his promise to First Nations over the Site C Dam ( and regarding various LNG projects), but to all those Canadians who voted for him/Federal Liberals (not BC LibCons) on the basis that he would protect the environment, biodiversity, and the climate, and he would listen to the people. All he has done to date is to capitulate to corporate interests and Christy Clark’s/LibCons’ blandishments and exaggerations. He and his party have lost my trust and support, and I know many like myself feel likewise.

  3. What truly amazes me is how one person with a few cohorts can make a decision to approve a project that affects so many people and does so much destruction. The cost, the destruction to the land for so little gain makes it such a ridiculous decision. We the B.C. taxpayers are going to be on the hook for this white elephant. Why wasn’t it put to a referendum? Governments have too much power and it takes too long to correct a mistake of voting them in and getting rid of them. We seem to do that every election though we don’t vote in a new government we vote out the last one. Way too much power and not enough accountability.
    No premier before Campbell and Clark wanted this damn dam. The former Hydro CEO contends it’s a bad idea.

  4. I sincerely wish First Nation’s justice. That they haven’t resorted in any large degree to civil disobedience speaks to their patience. I do believe even that patience has a limit.

    The Prime Minister and Ms. Clark both promised reconciliation. Where is it?

  5. Actually NO Dam construction has begun as of yet. Only DAM preparations of clearcutting Ol Forest, knocking down of resident Eagle’s nests, destruction of fish and Wildlife habitats by clearing and earth moving have happened. Althought Trudeau broke his promise of reconciliation to Treaty 8 members and issued 2 big permits in late July, other permits are rquired to start “Building a DAM” so for now the Boys and Girls down there with their bright vests and smurf coveralls, 2 way radios endless White trucks with buggy whips and flags and Big adult sized Tonka toys are playing with dirt and repairing the stripped banks they’ve tried to keep from “Walking” as they have for over 10,000 years. But no DAM construction has begun. 🙂

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