Site C campers want meeting with Trudeau

Three days after BC Hydro filed an injunction to remove them, campers blocking Site C dam construction are asking for a meeting with the company's CEO, the premier and the prime minister.

A letter signed by three First Nations people involved in the Rocky Mountain Fort camp asks for a meeting "at a mutually agreeable and convenient location in Vancouver" in the "near future."

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The letter, dated Jan. 21, is addressed to BC Hydro CEO Jessica McDonald, Premier Christy Clark and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. It is signed by Helen Knott, Art Napoleon and Yvonne Tupper, who are part of a group calling itself Treaty 8 Stewards of the Land.

They want the senior officials to consider a three-point plan to end the impasse upstream of the Moberly River, where dam opponents have been camped for nearly a month.

They ask that land clearing be stopped "until court challenges initiated by First Nations and local landowners who are opposed to the project are finally determined." As well, they want Ottawa to suspend federal permits issued for dam construction pending "an expedited, open and transparent federal review" of the dam's "infringement" on treaty rights. Also on the wish list: a review of the dam by the B.C. Utilities Commission.

"We're asking until those meetings take place that they don't remove us from the camp that we have already," Knott said. "That meeting, it's about actually being heard. Right now, that's still not happening."

The protesters say they have gotten no response from BC Hydro on the plan. They've asked the leaders to meet in person or send a designate.

"As a sign of good faith, we request that until such a meeting takes place any actions contemplated by BC Hydro and/or the provincial government to remove Treaty 8 First Nations members and our supporters peacefully occupying the winter camp near the construction zone for the Site C dam be halted."

Site C spokesperson Dave Conway could not be immediately reached for comment.

As for the likelihood of the meeting taking place, Knott said she was hopeful.

"I have to believe in the possibility something will happen, whether it be the prime minister or specific cabinet ministers," Knott said, noting Trudeau's promised "new relationship" with First Nations.

Eight people were named in BC Hydro's notice of civil claim, filed Monday. The defendants have 21 days to file a counter claim.

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