First Nations groups from B.C. and Quebec come together against Site C dam
First Nations communities from British Columbia and Quebec came together outside the Federal Court of Appeal in Montreal Monday to protest the Site C hydroelectric energy dam on the Peace River in B.C.
Many protesters travelled across the country from Fort St. John, B.C., to Montreal.
Lawyers for the Prophet River and West Moberly First Nations are in court to argue the multibillion-dollar Site C dam project violates their clients’ constitutionally protected treaty rights.
It would entail flooding farmland along traditional First Nations territory and affect hunting, fishing and trapping rights.
Construction has continued despite the appeal, which aims to stop the project that was authorized in 2014 following an environmental assessment conducted by the federal and B.C. governments.
Chiefs insisted it not only destroys their traditional hunting grounds, but residents are being forced out of their homes.
“We’re raising awareness about the stupidity of the Site C dam,” said grand chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs.
“This is not simply an Indigenous issue, it’s about the eviction of private property.”
B.C. First Nations groups travelled to Montreal for the first available date in federal court.
They were joined by local communities who said they have had their fair share of battles with the government as well.
WATCH BELOW: Site C protests
Kanesatake Mohawks grand chief Serge Simon said he doesn’t want the issue to turn into another Oka Crisis, a land dispute between a group of Mohawk people and the town of Oka, Que. in 1990 that left a Sûreté du Québec (SQ) corporal dead.
“That was an unfortunate event. No one wishes for another one,” said Simon.
“We always want to live in peace. We’ve been looking for peace for over 300 years and we’re still looking for it.”
The First Nations groups said they were inspired by protest movements in North Dakota against proposed pipelines in Standing Rock.
“This is another rally, this is another caravan,” said chief Ghislain Picard, head of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador.
“We’ve been doing this for 50, 60, 75 years. Isn’t this the country that was proud to say in ’82 that we have the only Constitution on the planet that recognizes Indigenous peoples?”
The groups are calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to step in.
They argued their fight will continue in Fort St-John, Montreal and through the provincial and federal courts.
The hearing is being heard in Montreal because the court’s docket had a quicker availability than in B.C.
— with files from The Canadian Press.
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