The province says two agreements have been reached with the Prophet River First Nation to end its treaty rights infringement claims over the Site C dam.
In a release, the province says it will work with Prophet River to improve land management and restore traditional place names in certain areas of cultural significance. Prophet River will also receive ongoing payments during the operation of the Site C project and the transfer of provincial Crown lands, as well as a woodland licence for community forest management, the province said.
“Site C has painfully impacted Prophet River and other Treaty 8 Nations. These agreements cannot undo the past, but we are ready for a new future,” Prophet River Coun. Beverly Stager said in a statement.
“We accept the promise of a better relationship with B.C. and BC Hydro and have faith that these agreements will help to protect what remains of the Treaty 8 lands and waters cherished so deeply by our people."
The deal includes an impact benefits agreement between BC Hydro and Prophet River, and a tripartite land agreement between BC Hydro, the provincial government, and Prophet River.
Said Coun. Jacqueline Reno, "These agreements will not prevent Site C from flooding the Peace River or address impacts of the previous dams. But they are a new start with B.C. and BC Hydro, a chance to move forward with mutual respect and common purpose using Treaty 8 as our guide."
The province says the next steps include identifying specific parcels of Crown land to propose for potential transfer to Prophet River.
The province says both it and Prophet River will engage local governments, stakeholders and neighbouring First Nations during land management discussions and prior to any Crown lands being transferred.
"Our preference is always to resolve issues at the table rather than through the courts, and we appreciate the commitment by leadership from Prophet River First Nation and BC Hydro to keep talking so we could come to a resolution,” Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser said.
“By having everyone at the table and working together with collaboration and respect, we can move away from uncertainty and conflict, and create opportunities that benefit everyone in B.C."
Said BC Hydro President Chris O'Riley, "BC Hydro, the Province of British Columbia and Prophet River First Nation worked collaboratively to reach these agreements. These agreements represent an important step in resolving differences through good-faith dialogue and will help build a long-term, collaborative and mutually beneficial relationship."
Prophet River joined Treaty No. 8 in 1910.
Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at firstname.lastname@example.org.