The Site C Dam location is seen along the Peace River in Fort St. John, B.C., Tuesday, April 18, 2017. The Prophet River First Nation, B.C. government and BC Hydro have reached an agreement ending a civil suit launched by the First Nation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Agreement between province, BC Hydro, First Nation, ends legal fight over Site C

B.C. will work to improve land management and restore traditional place names in areas of cultural significance

A British Columbia First Nation has ended its legal battle against the provincial government and BC Hydro over the Site C dam, a project the nation originally claimed was a $1-billion treaty violation.

A statement from the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation says the Prophet River First Nation, province and BC Hydro have reached agreements ending the civil claim.

The matter involved the allegation that development of BC Hydro’s Site C dam on the Peace River in northeastern B.C., would destroy Indigenous territory and violate Aboriginal rights protected by Treaty 8.

The statement, released jointly by the province, Crown utility and First Nation, says B.C. will work to improve land management and restore traditional place names in areas of cultural significance.

Prophet River also receives ongoing payments while the Site C project is operating, and provincial Crown lands will be transferred to the nation along with a licence for woodland management.

Next steps in the process include identifying specific parcels of land for potential transfer and discussions with local governments, neighbouring First Nations and others about the plans.

The statement says components of the agreement include an impact benefits agreement, tripartite land deal and letter of commitment from B.C.

The Province and hydro also say they are committed to implementing the agreements with Prophet River in recognition of the cultural values and Treaty rights of the Fort Nelson-area Nation.

Coun. Beverly Stager with the Prophet River First Nation says Site C has “painfully impacted” Treaty 8 Nations and these agreements “can’t undo the past” but instead offer a new future.

“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,” Stager says in the statement.

This civil lawsuit was filed in early 2018 when the Prophet River and West Moberley First Nations alleged the multibillion-dollar project failed to “uphold the duty of the Crown.”

One year earlier, Treaty 8 Nations announced — based on a $225-million award to Indigenous groups in Northern Quebec in 1975 over the James Bay Hydro project — that it was due a settlement of about $1 billion.

A B.C. Supreme Court date on that civil claim had been set for 2022, but Hydro, the two First Nations and the B.C. government entered talks 18 months ago, to avoid court action.

Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, says B.C.’s preference is always to resolve issues at the table, rather than through the courts.

“We appreciate the commitment by leadership from Prophet River First Nation and BC Hydro to keep talking so we could come to a resolution,” Fraser says.

“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.”

Prophet River First Nation’s nearly 300 members have rights to hunt, fish, trap and carry out other traditional practices under Treaty 8 in areas that include the Peace River and the location of the Site C project.

The Canadian Press

IndigenousSite C

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. salmon farms challenge activists’ demands for site closures

News reporting also unfair, inaccurate and distorted

ALBERNI GOLF: Van Lent gets hole in one

Next Sunday, Oct. 4 will be the windup for Sunday morning golf for this crazy year of 2020

EDITORIAL: Election forces change, uncertainty for Mid Island-Pacific Rim riding

The Mid Island-Pacific Rim riding is heading into a snap election at a time when we least need it.

BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs prepare for unusual 2020-21 season

Questions remain about funding, fans in seats at the Alberni Valley Multiplex

B.C. counts 125 new COVID-19 cases, up to 1,284 active

No new deaths or health care facility outbreaks

Health Canada green-lights rapid COVID-19 test

Health Canada approved the BCube test from Hyris Ltd. in the United Kingdom Sept. 23

FINLAYSON: COVID-related job losses concentrated in urban areas… especially Metro Vancouver

The biggest job losses, in absolute terms, have been in Metro Vancouver

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

6 puppies rescued in mass seizure on Princeton farm die from illness: BC SPCA

Of the 97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized, most of the puppies suffered from parvo

Action demanded over death of First Nations youth in Abbotsford group home

Family and Indigenous organizations push for thorough investigation

U.S. boater fined $1,000 for violation of Quarantine Act

49-year-old man entered Canada to visit girlfriend in Surrey

More sex abuse charges laid against B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’

Investigators now focussing efforts on alleged victims within the Glad Tidings Church community

Most Read