BC Hydro’s Proposals at Cache Creek a Public Relations Ploy, not an “Accommodation”

Nun wa dee (“Keepers of the Land”)

Wednesday, June 28, 2017 1:59 PM

This  is a response to these recent articles : 

Hydro tweaking highway realignment after First Nations voice concerns, June 21 Chris Newton, Energetic City:



UPDATE: Weaver’s claims of Site C road damage denied, Uune 21, Tom Fletcher (Blackpress Media): BC Hydro says sweatlodge, burial ground accommodated: https://www.wltribune.com/business/weaver-clark-make-their-pitches-on-site-c-dam/



BC Hydro’s Proposals at Cache Creek a Public Relations Ploy, not an “Accommodation”


FORT ST JOHN (June 28, 2017): Chief Lynette Tsakoza of Prophet River First Nation and Chief Roland Willson of West Moberly First Nations wish to correct recent news reports which state that the sweat lodge and burial ground at Bear Flat have been “accommodated” by recent BC Hydro’s proposals. The proposals include negligible changes to the road and bridge design and an offer to replace the sweat lodge with a “new spiritual centre”. On June 22nd, representatives of the First Nations met with BC Hydro to discuss these proposals. According to Chief Lynette Tsakoza, “We sent our staff to hear them out, but it sounds like BC Hydro is just putting forward measures they know might look good to the uninformed. It’s a public relations ploy, not a serious solution.”


Here are the latest proposals and the reasons why they aren’t actually solutions at all. Eight Metres Further from the Sweat Lodge:

BC Hydro’s June 14th proposal was to move the centreline within the right of way for the new highway another 8 metres away, increasing the distance between the centreline to the lodge to 45 metres.


However, the distance between the lodge and the edge of the right of way (the area within which road construction would be legally permitted) remains unchanged at only 13 metres. That’s the length of a single telephone pole. But as BC Hydro has known since April 2012 when the Lodge Keeper requested a one-kilometre buffer, a much wider berth is required to preserve this ceremonial site. There are practical reasons for this. Most obviously, the roar of nearby truck traffic would drown out and disrupt any songs and other aspects of the ceremony taking place inside the sweat lodge. Second, these ceremonies usually have multiple rounds, and in between them the participants often leave the lodge to find a tranquil, natural setting nearby to rest, reflect, and prepare themselves for the next round. BC Hydro’s alignment would literally put trucks inside this sacred space. Third, the sweat lodge is not located at Bear Flat by accident. The area has been an important First Nations travel corridor and gathering place for thousands of years. “A highway cutting through the heart of Bear Flat would sever the connections we are trying to maintain with our ancestors through the sweat ceremony and also through other cultural activities in that area”, said Chief Willson. After reviewing BC Hydro’s proposal, Chief Tsakoza noted this: “offering to go eight metres when everyone knows you need one-thousand.


Does that sound like good faith consultation to you?” Buy a “New Spiritual Centre”:

In a June 20th letter to the First Nations, BC Hydro said that the First Nations weren’t “interested” in moving the sweat lodge to another location at Bear Flat. In the meeting the next day, BC Hydro acknowledged that they’d been given the technical and cultural reasons why that couldn’t actually be done at a two-day meeting in March. The letter then offers to replace the sweat lodge with “a new spiritual centre”. In response to this proposal, Prophet River’s Chief Lynette Tsakoza said, “Our ceremonial sites aren’t pickup trucks. You can’t trade them in for a newer model.”


A Bridge Two Metres Above a Burial Ground:

BC Hydro has also proposed lengthening the bridge at Cache Creek and raising it a littler so that the bottom of the bridge would be on top of the burial ground discovered last June, with two metres of clearance. At the meeting on Thursday, BC Hydro’s representatives were invited to raise their hands if any of them wanted a bridge directly on top of the gravesites of their own ancestors. “Their hands stayed down. Their eyes were on the floor, too”, according to Jason Lee, Director of the Nun wa dee Stewardship Society, who attended the meeting.


On the relationship of the Cache Creek work to the project as a whole, Chief Willson said, “There are a dozen reasons to cancel the Site C project. And that’s exactly what should happen after the BCUC cracks open BC Hydro’s books. But in the meantime, while work continues, is it really too much to ask that avoidable impacts be avoided? If BC Hydro can’t reroute a 9 kilometre stretch of road to avoid graves and sacred sites, why should anybody believe they can manage the other issues that will crop up on a $9 billion project?”


For more information, contact:

Chief Roland Willson, West Moberly First Nations: 250.783.0733


Nun wa dee (“Keepers of the Land”) is a stewardship society serving Prophet River and West Moberly First Nations