Site C Injunction Hearing: Mercury, Moose & More

Witness for the Peace

The hearing for the Site C injunction sought by the West Moberly First Nation continued this week with a morning rally Monday, July 30. Yvonne Tupper, a member of the Saulteau First Nation - along with the white elephant - reminded everyone that it's not too late to stop this debt bomb.


How does the BC Supreme Court address questions of equity & reconciliation?

When West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations first challenged the Site C dam using the judicial review process years ago, BC Hydro and the federal and provincial governments argued – successfully – that questions of Treaty infringement were too complex for a review process and required a full trial to resolve.

Now that the First Nations have launched a full law suit, BC Hydro is arguing in court that the First Nations shouldn’t be granted an injunction to protect the Peace River Valley because the legal issues at stake are so complex that they aren’t likely to be resolved quickly. In other words, BC Hydro thinks the case might drag on for years -- and will work to ensure it does -- and wants to continue with its plans, including clearcutting the Valley, in the meantime.

Hydro’s line of argument includes many egregious assertions. “They (Treaty 8 people) can hunt in other parts of their territory,” ignoring the essence of hunting, fishing and trapping on traditional lands. Or as the Hydro lawyer said: There is no treaty promise "that practical, traditional, cultural, or spiritual connection to any land would be protected.” No recognition of the Indigenous view of the connection to the land.

Hydro concedes that maybe some hunting opportunities have been reduced, but there’s always fishing, ignoring the methyl mercury poisoning in the water and fish.

But most of all, BC Hydro assumes we're still living in the 1950s where ravaging the earth was seen as a hallmark of progress. At a time when it's imperative to meet the challenges of the climate crisis, BC's goal is to spend billions of dollars on Site C to help the fossil fuel and LNG industry accelerate climate change. 

Hydro doesn’t see ecosystems because its only reason for existence is to build megadams.Yet scratch the surface of these mega projects around the world, from Brazil to BC, and you’ll find a toxic brew of underestimated costs, inflated revenues, discounted environmental impacts and overvalued benefits. And in BC's case, an extreme lack of transparency. In his July 9 affidavit to the court, E. Harvey Elwin said: "I have never seen in 50 years a major public project or program being put in place for its ratepayers by a public agency providing as little information.”

This is why we’re standing with Treaty 8 Nations, farmers and many more who are fighting Site C. River and floodplain habitats are among the world's most diverse ecosystems. No one knows how many species of plants and animals have become extinct because their habitat was flooded by a dam. As well as destroying habitat, reservoirs can also wreak havoc with migratory routes. 

This photo was taken during the Alcan flooding of Ootsa and Cheslatta Lakes in the 1950s. Thousands of animals died trying to cross the flooded reservoirs, mired in the mud like this moose. Marksmen in helicopters killed the bloated, trapped animals. These crimes against nature must stop here. 

If you haven’t noticed, the corporate media seems to be ignoring news about this important court case. They need to hear from you.

The court case is scheduled to continue to August 10.

In solidarity,
Mae Burrows and Diane Lake

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Please share photos and observations about this crucial hearing when you can. Here's a story from The Star Vancouver, for instance.


If you'd like to watch the hearing, each day the previous day's recordings are posted online.

Our friends at FightC and Poets for the Peace have been live tweeting the hearing everyday since the injunction hearing started last week. Their live tweeting will continue till Aug 10. Each day updates and summaries are posted at the Witness For the Peace blog.