“There can be no lasting reconciliation while Indigenous peoples’ rights are being trampled upon, diminished, and frozen in the past. There can be no trust in your government while the words you say to the public ring false in the court rooms…” – Grand Chief Stewart Phillip

September 14, 2018

The recently concluded Site C injunction hearing shone a bright light on the Horgan government’s deeply flawed – and indeed blatantly discriminatory – approach to Treaty rights in the Peace River Valley.

We don’t know yet whether the court will grant an injunction to suspend construction of the Site C dam – that ruling may not come out until late in October.

We do know that the province must urgently rethink its legal strategies before the case moves to the next stage of the full trial.

Our organizations encourage all our supporters to contact Premier John Horgan, Attorney General David Eby and – if they are a resident of BC – their own representative in the provincial legislature.

Please join us in urging the Horgan government to take immediate, urgent action to address the blatant contradiction between its arguments in court and its public commitments to respect and uphold the rights of Indigenous peoples.

In the name of fairness and reconciliation, the province should, at a minimum, withdraw its opposition to an interim injunction on the Site C dam, accept the evidence of First Nations elders that the Peace River Valley is crucial to the exercise of their Treaty rights, and seek independent legal advice on how to ensure its legal arguments are consistent with its human rights obligations.

If you’ve already signed a petition on Site C, thank you for speaking out. But please also take a few minutes to send a more personal information. With the full legal trial launching soon, we’re potentially at a turning point in this campaign. It’s more important than ever to speak out.

Here are a few points you may want to raise when you call or write:

  • First Nations in northeast BC have legal rights to hunt, fish and trap that were guaranteed in Treaty 8. Treaty rights are protected in the Canadian Constitution and international human rights law. It’s not fair that First Nations have had to mount a massive court challenge just to have those legal rights considered. Now that First Nations have been forced to take the matter to court, the Horgan government has a clear obligation to engage honourably with the court process and work toward a fair and just outcome that respects rather than diminishes or undermines the rights of Indigenous rights
  • The province’s only defense for having ignored their Treaty responsibilities has been to claim that at least BC Hydro “consulted” with First Nations. Yet, during the injunction hearing, lawyers for BC Hydro were so dismissive and disrespectful of the cultures and traditions of First Nations, and the testimony of elders, that the Union of BC Indian Chiefs has asked for a formal apology. There has been no response from the province.
  • The Horgan government has promised to uphold the Supreme Court’s landmark Tsilhqot’in decision, but continues to rely on the same lawyers and the same legal tactics that the previous government used to fight tooth and nail against the Tsilhqot’in when that case was the before the courts.
  • Despite public commitments to reconciliation, the Horgan government is trying to exclude Indigenous peoples’ own perspectives, values and laws from the interpretation of their rights. During the injunction hearing, lawyers representing BC Hydro and the province tried to convince the court that the deep cultural ties to the Peace Valley, millennia of use of the Valley, and the traditional knowledge embedded in the landscape documented in the First Nations submissions have nothing to do with the provincial government’s obligations under Treaty 8.
  • The province says that after the Peace Valley is destroyed, First Nations will still be able to exercise their rights somewhere else. The province is ignoring the evidence of numerous well-documented studies that extensive resource development in northeast BC has already been allowed to dramatically erode the ecosystems needed to sustain wildlife.

PLEASE RAISE YOUR CONCERNS WITH:

Premier John Horgan
premier@gov.bc.ca
1-250-387-1715.
(Or use this feature to place a call to the Premier’s office)

Attorney General David Eby
AG.minister@gov.bc.ca
250-387-1866

BC residents, you’ll find your MLA here:
https://www.leg.bc.ca/learn-about-us/members

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Open Letter from the Union of BC Indian Chiefs

Summaries from the injunction hearing by witnessforthepeace.ca

Amnesty International’s analysis of the BC government’s submissions

Site C dam condemned by United Nations anti-racism body

Site C court case a critical test of government commitment to reconciliation – Op ed by Shin Imai and Sheryl Lightfoot

Categories: Action Appeal