West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations Launch Civil Actions for Treaty Infringement and Injunctions to Stop Construction of Site C

First Nations Leaders

(Fort St. John, B.C., Treaty 8 Territory, Jan 16, 2018) – The West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations have filed notices of civil action alleging that the Site C hydroelectric project, together with the two previous dams on the Peace River, unjustifiably infringes their constitutional rights under Treaty 8, stating:  

“The cumulative impact of the Bennett, Peace Canyon, and Site C Dams is to turn the Peace River into a series of reservoirs, destroying the unique cultural and ecological character of the Peace, severing the physical, practical, cultural and spiritual connection the Prophet have with the Peace, and infringing [West Moberly and Prophet’s] Treaty Rights.”

The claims filed by the First Nations request court declarations that approvals issued for the project are “unconstitutional, void, and of no force and effect”, as well as injunctions prohibiting any further approvals by the Crown or any further construction by BC Hydro.

Earlier this month, BC Hydro refused requests by the First Nations to voluntarily suspend work or to defer signing of major contracts without penalty-free termination clauses. The First Nations intend to have an interim injunction application heard early this spring, and will be asking the court to assign a case management judge to ensure their rights aren’t prejudiced by unnecessary delays.


The First Nations have assembled a new legal team, headed by senior litigation counsel Reidar Mogerman of Camp Fiorante Matthews Mogerman. The firm has had wide-ranging success in some of Canada’s largest class action cases, including a recent victory against Volkswagen with recoveries to date of approximately $2.4 billion dollars. The team also includes acclaimed environmental law professor and practitioner Chris Tollefson, as well as Sonya Morgan of Woodward and Company and Tim Thielmann of Sage Legal each of whom bring extensive experience in aboriginal law.


The First Nations also intend to apply for the disclosure of documents which to-date have been redacted or withheld from public scrutiny.


“We need more information about the project’s schedule, budget, and ongoing geotechnical challenges to accurately estimate the implications of suspending construction until our Treaty infringement claims are decided at trial,” said Chief Roland Willson of the West Moberly First Nations.


“These documents might also explain how BC Hydro’s estimated cost of completing the project could have jumped by $2.4 billion in just two months,” said Chief Lynette Tsakoza of the Prophet River First Nation.


From as early as Christy Clark’s FID decision in December 2014, BC Hydro had maintained that the cost of completing the project would remain at $8.3 billion. But just weeks after affirming that number before the BCUC in August 2017, BC Hydro’s CEO Chris O’Riley admitted that the project would miss its September 2019 river diversion deadline and cost $8.9 billion. Then in December, the Premier announced the NDP Government’s intention to complete the project, stating without explanation that the cost of completion had risen to $10.7 billion.


“We are fighting for the land and the preservation of the Dunne-za way of life. But we are also fighting for values all British Columbians share, like transparency and economic prudence,” said Chief Willson


“We’re not just asking the court to save the Peace River valley, but to save British Columbians billions of dollars by scrapping this ill-conceived, outmoded, and unneeded boondoggle unravelling in plain sight,” stated Chief Tsakoza.


The notices of civil claim filed by the First Nations are available on Scribd:






First Nations Contact:


Chief Roland Wilson, West Moberly First Nations

Telephone: 250-783-0733


Legal Team Contact:


Tim Thielmann, Sage Legal

Telephone: 250-415-6761

Email: tim@sagelegal.ca