Peace valley central to Treaty 8 rights, chief says

The West Moberly First Nation says it is reviewing a B.C. Supreme Court judgment against its Site C legal challenge.

On Friday, Justice Robert Sewell dismissed an attempt by West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations to quash the province's environmental certificate for the $8.8-billion dam.

article continues below

West Moberly and Prophet River argued the province was wrong in making its decision to approve the dam, as it would infringe on their treaty rights.

"We are obviously disappointed with the judgment and are in the process of reviewing it with our legal counsel," Chief Roland Willson wrote in a statement to the Alaska Highway News.

"It is hard to believe that it is legal for the government to decide to destroy a major river valley that is central to the exercise of our Treaty rights without first making sure that its decision does not infringe those rights.

"Apparently all the government needs to do is make sure we have been consulted before making decisions that may actually be a violation of our Treaty. This couldn’t have been what our ancestors intended when they entered into the Treaty based on the government’s promise that there would be no forced interference with our way of life," Willson said.

In his judgement, however, Sewell said provincial ministers "made no error" in issuing the certificate without determining whether or not the project infringed on the two First Nations' treaty rights.

"The legislature did not intend to vest the Ministers to decide the complex question of whether the project was an infringement of the petitioners' Treaty 8 rights," he wrote.

"The procedures set out in the (law regarding environmental assessment certificates) are simply inadequate to permit determination of the issues framed by the (First Nations) in this proceeding."

The matter of treaty infringement could not be determined in a judicial review. It would need to go to a civil claim trial to determine if treaty rights were infringed.

"It is apparent that there is a considerable degree of conflict in the evidence which can only be resolved at trial," Sewell wrote.

In July, Sewell also dismissed a case brought forward by the Peace Valley Landowner Association, which argued the province did not give adequate consideration of economic recommendations made by the joint review panel appointed to review the dam and its impacts.

Further court challenges against the dam are set to continue this fall.

On Nov. 17, B.C. Supreme Court will hear arguments from West Moberly and Prophet River about permits issued for the first phases of dam construction.

BC Hydro has said it will continue to work with impacted First Nations to address their concerns.

editor@ahnfsj.ca

© Copyright Alaska Highway News

Comments

NOTE: To post a comment you must have an account with at least one of the following services: Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ You may then login using your account credentials for that service. If you do not already have an account you may register a new profile with Disqus by first clicking the "Post as" button and then the link: "Don't have one? Register a new profile".

The Alaska Highway News welcomes your opinions and comments. We do not allow personal attacks, offensive language or unsubstantiated allegations. We reserve the right to edit comments for length, style, legality and taste and reproduce them in print, electronic or otherwise. For further information, please contact the editor or publisher, or see our Terms and Conditions.

comments powered by Disqus
Sign Up for our Newsletter!

Popular News

Lowest Gas Prices in Chetwynd, Dawson Creek, Fort Nelson, Fort St John, Tumbler Ridge
British Columbia Gas Prices provided by GasBuddy.com

Community Event Calendar


Find out what's happening in your community and submit your own local events.