Federal Government faces growing calls to halt the Site C dam

Ottawa – Organizations from across Canada are urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take immediate action to halt construction of the Site C dam in northeastern British Columbia.

In an open letter, more than 25 organizations, including the Amnesty International, the David Suzuki Foundation and the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y), denounced the project for violation of rights protected under Treaty 8, the Canadian Constitution, and international human rights law.

Although promoted by the government of BC as a “clean” source of renewable energy, the joint federal-provincial environmental impact assessment panel concluded that the Site C dam would severely and permanently undermine Indigenous peoples’ use of the land and destroy important cultural sites and a unique ecosystem.

“As we said in the letter, this is not just another resource development project,” said Candace Batycki, Y2Y’s Program Director for BC and the Yukon. “The Site C dam is one of the largest resource development projects underway in Canada and its impact on the environment and local First Nations will be severe. Given the review panel’s findings, it’s alarming that it was approved in the first place.”

The letter calls on the federal government to rescind all permits related to the construction of the dam and to review the previous government’s decision to approve the project despite its impact on Treaty rights.

“Prime Minister Trudeau and his government made a clear public commitment to building a new relationship with Indigenous peoples based on respect for the Treaties, the Constitution, and international human rights law,” said Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians. “If it intends to keep that promise, the federal government needs to take immediate, decisive action on Site C.”

Jennifer Henry, Executive Director of KAIROS added, “Reconciliation requires a definitive change from the treatment of Indigenous peoples that has already caused so much harm. As Canadians concerned about social justice and the environment, we are calling on Prime Minister Trudeau and his government to make it clear that respect for Treaty rights will not be sacrificed.”

“During the recent climate change negotiations in Paris, Canada was clear that ‘clean energy’ requires respect for both human rights and the environment,” noted Joe Foy, National Campaign Director for the Wilderness Committee. “We’re asking that they put these principles into practice at home.”

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