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120,000 Canadians call for immediate action to protect the environment and human rights from disastrous impacts of the Site C dam

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

27 April 2017

Citizens’ groups, Indigenous peoples, human rights and environmental organizations are asking British Columbia MPs to take a message to Ottawa.

“British Columbia’s Site C dam is one of the largest megaprojects of our generation,” said Andrea Morison, Executive Director of the Peace Valley Environment Association. “Our political leaders cannot continue to ignore the devastating impacts it will have on our waters and on the rights of Indigenous peoples.”

More than 120,000 people have signed petitions, postcards and letters calling for an immediate halt to construction. Petitions were presented to BC MPs today as they prepared to return to the House of Commons after a Parliamentary break.

Organizers included Amnesty International Canada, Leadnow, Sierra Club BC, the Peace Valley Environment Association, KAIROS, Keepers of the Water, Peace Valley Landowners Association, Alliance4Democracy and the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.

They are calling on parliamentarians of all parties to press for clear answers as to why the Site C dam is still going ahead despite established harm to the natural environment, farmlands, and the rights of Indigenous peoples.

Last week, a detailed study published by the University of British Columbia Program on Water Governance concluded that proceeding with Site C would be “uneconomic”, since future electricity demand will be much lower than BC Hydro had stated during the review process, the cost of the project will be higher than previously estimated, and the cost of alternative sources of energy would be lower.

Candace Batycki of the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative said, “Even before Site C was approved, the environmental assessment process raised serious doubts about the claimed economic benefits that supposedly justified the terrible harm that would be done by flooding the Peace Valley. Now that this report from UBC has declared Site C uneconomic, it’s clearly time for both levels of government to give this project some sober second thought.”

The federal government has acknowledged that it approved the Site C dam without consideration of whether doing so was consistent with their legal obligations under Treaty 8, which protects the right of the Cree and Dane-Zaa to use their traditional lands. Despite a series of judicial reviews of the approval of Site C, Canadian courts have yet to render a verdict on this fundamental question.

“Site C is a disaster in the making,” said Brittany Smith, campaigner at Leadnow. “Canadians deserve to know why our governments have continued to back such a harmful and costly project in the face of serious, unresolved legal challenges from First Nations.”

The Site C dam also seriously threatens water flows in the Peace-Athabasca Delta, part of Wood Buffalo National Park. A recent UNESCO report strongly criticized Canada for failing to protect the park. The country’s largest World Heritage Site risks being added to the List of World Heritage in Danger unless the Canadian government acts immediately to address these threats, which endanger the ability of the Mikisew Cree to practice their way of life.

“The UNESCO report shows the Site C dam should have never been approved in the first place. Now, it is damaging the relationship between First Nations and Canadian society,” said Galen Armstrong, Peace Valley Campaigner for Sierra Club BC. “It is time for the federal government to stop abdicating its responsibility and immediately suspend its approval of Site C.”

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs said, “The future of Site C has become a hot topic in the current provincial election. Whoever forms the next provincial government after May 9th, it is going to be very hard for them to continue ignoring the impact of this unnecessary megaproject. The missing piece is for the federal government to break its silence on this crucial issue.”

Jennifer Henry, Executive Director of KAIROS, said, “Our organizations are grateful to the Members of Parliament who have already spoken out on Site C. We hope that MPs of all parties will agree that a project that is of such concern to so many Canadians deserves closer scrutiny.”

This week at a United Nations meeting on the rights of Indigenous peoples, the federal Minister of Indigenous Affairs Carolyn Bennett once again repeated her government’s promise to fully uphold the rights of Indigenous peoples recognized in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including the right of Indigenous peoples to say no to unwanted development on their lands.

Craig Benjamin, who is attending the UN meeting on behalf of Amnesty International,  said, “The federal government has never explained how it can reconcile its claims to champion the rights of Indigenous peoples on the world stage while turning its back on those same rights in the Peace Valley.”

 

Contact:

Galen Armstrong, Peace Valley Campaigner

Sierra Club BC

Cell: 778-679-3191

 

Jacob Kuehn, Media Relations

Amnesty International Canada

613-744-7667 ext. 236

5 short videos that explain the Site C dam boondoggle

What’s the deal with the Site C dam?

Here’s the situation in the simplest terms: the government wants to put a huge, unnecessary dam on a major river, and it’s a really, really bad idea.

Here’s a little more detail: the BC government and BC Hydro (BC’s publicly-owned electricity utility) have started construction on an earthfill dam called Site C in Northeastern BC, near Fort St. John. Flooding of the valley is slated to start in 2021. With less than $2 billion spent so far, it’s much smarter to stop the project now, rather than letting costs balloon to between $9 and $17 billion.

Here are five short videos that help explain how the BC government got us into this mess, and why we need to stop this dam in its tracks:

  1. BC HAS A SURPLUS OF ELECTRICITY. This DeSmog Canada video answers the question, “What is the Site C dam?” Dr. Harry Swain, former chair of the Joint Review Panel on Site C, explains how BC doesn’t need Site C power and won’t need it for a very long time.

Cutting Through the Spin on the Site C Dam

Last week DeSmog Canada published a video about the Site C dam that — after generating nearly 120,000 views in 36 hours — was suddenly removed by Facebook due to a complaint filed by a B.C. government contractor. Fear not, we've done a new cut. This is the video they didn't want you to see. Read more about the complaint: http://bit.ly/2fdejyn

Posted by DeSmog Canada on Wednesday, November 2, 2016

 

  1. FIRST NATIONS HAVE RIGHTS. Indigenous poet, writer and activist Helen Knott speaks about what Treaty 8 First Nations stand to lose if the Site C dam is completed in this Amnesty Canada video. First Nations are fighting the dam in court, and the federal and provincial governments are pretending not to hear.

 

    1. BRITISH COLUMBIANS CAN’T AFFORD TO SUBSIDIZE CORPORATIONS. At this point, you might still be wondering why the government is pushing the dam ahead if it’s such a terrible idea. This Sierra Club BC video shows how the dam is part of the BC government’s plan for a $9 billion handout to fracking and LNG companies, with hydro customers footing the bill.

Hydro Bill Madness

Your BC Hydro bill is going up so Kinder Morgan and Petronas' PNW fracked gas plant can have cheap power. TELL YOUR CANDIDATES: end the handouts, STOP the Site C dam: actionsprout.io/62C809

Posted by Sierra Club BC on Monday, March 27, 2017

 

  1. PEOPLE NEED FOOD TO EAT. Agrologist Wendy Holm found that Peace River Valley farmland could feed more than one million people (nearly a quarter of BC’s population). In this Little River Productions clip, Wendy also discusses the NAWAPA theory that the dam is part of a continental water sharing plan for bulk water exports to the US.

 

 

  1. IT’S NOT TOO LATE TO STOP THIS DAM. Former BC Premier Mike Harcourt tells DeSmog Canada it’s better to cut our losses at $2 billion rather than go bankrupt (BC Hydro already has $76 billion in debt).

 

Site C Dam an ‘Economic Disaster’: Former Premier

The Site C dam is an “economic disaster” that could end up costing B.C. more than $15 billion, according to former Premier Mike Harcourt in this new video interview. Rather than wasting money on power we don't need, Harcourt says B.C. should cut its losses and get building infrastructure we DO need like schools, transit lines and bridges. What do you think?Read more on DeSmog Canada: http://bit.ly/SiteCDisasterDon’t miss out: http://bit.ly/DeSmogNewsLearn more about the Site C dam: https://www.desmog.ca/site-c-dam-bc

Posted by DeSmog Canada on Thursday, March 2, 2017

 

TAKE ACTION: SITE C THREATENS A WORLD HERITAGE SITE. Site C not only threatens the Peace River Valley, but it also threatens Canada’s largest World Heritage Site: Wood Buffalo National Park and the Peace Athabasca Delta. UNESCO is urging the Canadian Government to do an environmental and social impact assessment of the Site C project. Please take action by telling Prime Minister Trudeau to halt the dam construction and do a proper assessment:

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UNESCO: Site C Dam Threatens Canada’s largest World Heritage Site

March 2017

Canada has failed to protect its largest World Heritage Site. Based upon a process initiated by Sierra Club BC, UNESCO visited the Peace River Valley in the fall of 2016 to investigate how the Site C dam endangers Wood Buffalo National Park. On March 10, 2017, UNESCO released its report from the ten-day monitoring mission. The report strongly criticizes Canada and suggests the park risks the embarrassment of joining the list of UNESCO’s List of World Heritage in Danger.

The report notes that impacts on the park from development are “far more complex and severe than previously thought” and includes 17 recommendations for Canada. Canada is being given “one opportunity under the World Heritage Convention to immediately develop a structured and adequately funded response” to address the threats the Park is facing from:

  • Fractured relationships between the governments and Indigenous peoples who live on the land
  • The proposed Site C hydroelectric dam
  • Oil sands projects, contaminated rivers and wildlife
  • Lack of conservation capacity and focus by Parks Canada
  • Systemic regulatory failure to control industrial development in a manner that protects this World Heritage Site
  • Human health concerns

Peace River. Photo by Louis Bockner.

The report concluded that anything less than a “major and timely” response to these recommendations would “constitute a case for recommending inscription of Wood Buffalo National Park on the List of World Heritage in Danger.”

The fact-finding mission was prompted by a petition from the Mikisew Cree First Nation in December 2014 to have the park added to UNESCO’s List of World Heritage in Danger.

“We agree with the report’s finding. We brought our petition to UNESCO because our way of life is tied to the Peace-Athabasca Delta and Canada’s failure to protect this important area has put our people at risk. Canada needs to respond quickly and strongly to implement the report’s recommendations because the Delta doesn’t have much time,” says Mikisew Chief Steve Courtoreille.

Melody Lepine, Mikisew’s lead for the UNESCO petition, added, “This report confirms what Mikisew elders have been saying for years. Canada may have ignored the Peace-Athabasca Delta and the Mikisew Cree in the past, but now the world will be watching. It’s time for Canada to start working with us to protect the Delta.”

Mikisew’s petition has been supported by former Parks Canada officials, leading scientists, indigenous groups and numerous non-governmental organizations, many of whom participated in the reactive monitoring mission including Sierra Club BC, CPAWS Northern Alberta Chapter and Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.

Peace River. Photo: Don Hoffman

“We applaud the report’s unequivocal conclusion that dams on the Peace River are putting this World Heritage Site at risk,” said Caleb Behn, Executive Director of the Keepers of the Water. “The mission experts looked at evidence from all perspectives and came to the conclusion that governments aren’t properly protecting the rivers that create this unique delta. The world is saying Canada has one chance to do better.”

The report is clear that Canada hasn’t lived up to its promises to protect the outstanding universal values in Wood Buffalo National Park. Now the future of Canada’s largest inland delta is, in the words of the report, “uncertain at the very best.” Will Wood Buffalo National Park remain an object of national pride, or will it become a symbol of the impacts runaway development and disrespect for indigenous lifeways have on nature and culture? Only strong leadership and action can prevent an international embarrassment.

This damning report also demonstrates the Trudeau government should never have allowed any approvals for the Site C megadam in the first place. Sierra Club BC is calling on the Trudeau government to suspend its approval of Site C and order an immediate halt to construction, while Canada assesses the report’s recommendations and implements changes. In the long run Site C simply cannot be built.

We need you to call on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to halt construction on the Site C Dam immediately while the federal government assesses the potential impacts of the dam, and of tar sands development, on Wood Buffalo National Park.

Please donate today so that Sierra Club BC can continue to defend BC’s wild places.

 

Feature image by Jorgen Schyberg

The Site C dam fight: what keeps me going

By Galen Armstrong, Peace Valley Campaigner

March 2, 2017

Working for change can be tough. Last night I was on the phone with a hard-working volunteer, and she was feeling the pain underlying our mission to stop the Site C dam before the flooding begins, which is set to start in 2022.

Galen with photographer Louis Bockner (credit) and Peace Valley farmers Ken and Arlene Boon.

We were preparing to make outreach phone calls to new volunteers to ask them to join us at a weekly canvass. During a canvass, we talk to strangers on the street and tell them what a huge mistake the Site C dam is, and that it will impact each of us financially via our hydro bills—especially if we don’t cut our losses and stop it.

Last night, this volunteer wanted to talk about the grief she was feeling as she thought about the families who are literally facing the loss of their homes. The land of farmers Ken and Arlene Boon has already been expropriated, though they are allowed to remain in their farmhouse until May—just two months from now.

So we talked about it. We recognized that there’s a lot of grief in all of this. I can’t imagine how it must feel for the Boons, or for Yvonne Tupper or Julian Napoleon or other members of First Nations living near the Peace River Valley. We each have our own experience of what’s happening, and what could happen.

Last fall when I visited the Peace, I met a couple named Caroline and Derek, and their three boys. Recently, Caroline sent me this video of their oldest son, 12-year-old Xavier, who is facing the fact that his family’s home, which sits right next to the Peace River, will be lost if the dam isn’t stopped.

It’s important to recognize how hard this all is. For me, thinking of the people who are most directly facing the consequences of the Site C dam is what motivates me to keep going. Even when they’re people I haven’t met.

It’s not the only thing that motivates me—there is also the loss of species and ecosystems, the loss of culture, the loss of heritage, the loss of prime agricultural land, the impact on British Columbians everywhere who struggle to pay their bills—but these faces and their stories hit me in a uniquely visceral way.

The Beam family. Photo by Louis Bockner.

Even if it sometimes feels like the odds are stacked against us, I know what we are doing makes a difference, and I know it’s possible to stop the dam. I remember when the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline was approved by the federal government, and still it was stopped. It can be the same with the Site C dam.

So we took a little time last night to discuss those hard feelings, and then we got back to work. We called new potential volunteers. Some weren’t home. Some said “sorry, I can’t help.” And some said they would be there to join us on Monday, on Thursday, on Saturday.

I want to encourage everyone to take time to feel those hard feelings, and reach out for support when you need it. Then let’s shift that pain and sadness into anger and action. Let’s have it motivate us to work even harder to make a difference.

We need people to help make phone calls, to write letters to the editor, and to join us in the streets. Sign up to join our team of canvassers and volunteers—if we all do our part, we can not only stop the dam, we can stop the pain and suffering of families in the Peace Valley.

Please take action to stop the dam by sending a letter to the federal government and consider making a donation to Sierra Club BC. If you want to get more involved, you can always send me an email.

Thank you for everything you’ve already done, and that you’re doing now. It matters.

Pull Together 2.0: The People vs. Kinder Morgan

Both our federal and provincial governments have given the green light to Texas-based oil company Kinder Morgan to build a tarsands pipeline and increase oil tanker traffic on the BC coast by 700%.

Despite what Premier Clark says, BC is a long way off from having “world-leading” spill response capacity – on water or on land. Accidents happen and there’s no known technology to clean up toxic diluted bitumen.

Our elected representatives are standing up for Big Oil, so it is up to the rest of us to stand up for BC and defend our communities and our climate.

A number of First Nations along the pipeline and tankers route have already filed court challenges.

It was indigenous-led legal challenges that brought an end to Enbridge’s Northern Gateway proposal. First Nations can stop Kinder Morgan in the courts also. Let’s not stand by and watch them go it alone.

That’s why we’re relaunching Pull Together. In partnership with RAVEN Trust and the Force of Nature Alliance, we’re supporting the Tsleil-Waututh and Coldwater Nations who are in court to overturn the federal approval.

There are lots of ways you can help. During our last Pull Together campaign, there were smoothie sales and pub nights, dance performances and poetry readings. Over fifty musicians played at benefit concerts across the province.

Will you host a solidarity event in your community?

It doesn’t matter how big or small – whether you raise $100 or $1,000, your impact will be amplified by the contributions of others.

We can help get you started. Just fill out this form and we will be in touch to provide you with support.

When we pulled together to stop Enbridge, we were overwhelmed by your response. All across the province, people stepped up. People like you danced, marched, sang, paddled, stretched and ate together to support the First Nations fighting Enbridge in court. Together we raised over $600,000 for the legal costs, thanks to unprecedented solidarity between Indigenous leaders and thousands of Pull Together allies.

Photo by Michael Beach.

Not a penny of the money raised went to Sierra Club BC. This campaign is a risky one for us financially, however we feel so strongly that it’s the right thing to do that we are doing it again! We believe that standing in solidarity with First Nations requires the courage to take risks and step outside our comfort zone.

We hope you will join us. Your ongoing support is what lets us take this kind of risk. And your involvement in Pull Together is how together we will stop Kinder Morgan.

Pull Together is not just about raising money, it is about pulling together in the face of governments bent on forcing the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tankers on an unwilling province.

Pull Together is about building strong communities of resistance. Pull Together recognizes that when it comes to moving away from fossil fuel dependence, we are all in this together. With Trump pushing his fossil fuel agenda, it’s all the more important that we organize here in BC to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

By stopping Kinder Morgan, we can build the type of future we want in British Columbia—one that moves toward renewable, clean energy and green jobs. One in which our communities are safe from the threat of oil spills.

Together, we can do this. Ready, set, pull!

Environmental groups applaud Ahousaht Land Use Vision

Clayoquot Sound Conservation Alliance supports Ahousaht leadership in conservation and community development goals announced today

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

January 25, 2017

TOFINO – This afternoon, the Ahousaht Hawiih (hereditary chiefs) publicly announced their nation’s new comprehensive Land Use Vision for their territory, which sits within the heart of the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Representatives of the Clayoquot Sound Conservation Alliance (CSCA) (comprised of Greenpeace, Friends of Clayoquot Sound, Sierra Club BC, STAND. earth and Wilderness Committee) were present to support and congratulate the Hawiih for this initiative.

“The Ahousaht Land Use Vision steps up to meet the environmental and social imperatives of the 21st century with solutions for rainforest conservation and community benefits within their famous territory, located in one of the most beautiful and ecologically rich landscapes in the world,” said Valerie Langer of Stand.earth (formerly ForestEthics), a member of the CSCA.

Under the Land Use Vision about 80 percent of Ahousaht territory will be set aside as cultural and natural areas “to conserve biological diversity, natural landscapes and wilderness, and to provide for Ahousaht continued spiritual, cultural and sustenance use.”

The new Land Use Vision was developed by the Maaqutusiis Hahoulthee Stewardship Society (MHSS) under the direction of the Hawiih, in consultation with the community of Ahousaht First Nation. It identifies different land use designations for their territory. The bold vision moves Ahousaht First Nation away from old-growth logging and other unsustainable industries in ecologically important rainforest areas while prioritizing low-impact, community-led economic development by and for the Ahousaht people. The vision follows the declaration of a moratorium on old-growth logging in Ahousaht territory, made by the Hawiih in 2015.

The organizations that form the Clayoquot Sound Conservation Alliance have been advocating for the protection of the region’s globally significant temperate rainforest for more than three decades.

Ahousaht First Nation traditional territory sits in the heart of Clayoquot Sound, which remains the largest area of old-growth rainforest on Vancouver Island.

– 30 –

Read the Ahousaht land use vision

For more information, please contact:

Valerie Langer, Strategic Projects, STAND.earth (formerly ForestEthics) (604) 307-6448

Jens Wieting, Forests & Climate Campaigner, SierraClub BC (604) 354-5312

Torrance Coste, Vancouver Island Campaigner, Wilderness Committee (250) 516-9900

Jeh Custerra, Campaigner, Friends of Clayoquot Sound (306) 361-7855

Eduardo Sousa, Senior Forests Campaigner, Greenpeace (778) 378-9955

 

Feature image by Jens Wieting

BC communities say no to Site C Dam

By Galen Armstrong

December 1, 2016

Momentum is heating up across the province on Site C – and we’ve been tapping into it like never before with our Great Site C Roadshow.

In the span of just one month, eleven Site C awareness events were held in communities across British Columbia. From the Kootenays to the Cariboo, from the Okanagan to Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, hundreds of citizens turned out to learn how we can work together to stop Site C Dam.

I want to thank every person who showed up, volunteered, spoke, donated, organized, and promoted these events in your community. I’d also like to thank our local partners including Yellowstone2Yukon Initiative, the Council of Canadians – Duncan Chapter, and the Sea to Sands Conservation Alliance.

We are inspired by this show of solidarity for Treaty 8 First Nations who are fighting the dam in court and for the farmers who are facing eviction from their lands. This dam is far from being past the point of no return, and we are energized by the knowledge that so many are standing together to stop Site C. In fact, over 70% of British Columbians now say they want construction paused for an independent review and investigation of alternatives.

Here are some of our favourite highlights from the Great Site C Roadshow.

Credit Louis Bockner

Louis Bockner showing a photography slideshow

In Nelson, Argenta and Kaslo, photographer Louis Bockner and I shared stories and photos from our recent trip to the Peace Valley. Major thanks to these communities for helping us raise over $3,000 for Treaty 8 First Nations’ legal challenges to the dam!

Credit Monica Lamb-Yorski

Credit Monica Lamb-Yorski

In Williams Lake, Quesnel and Prince George, Sierra Club BC’s Ana Simeon shared a panel with Yvonne Tupper of the Saulteau First Nation and Ben Parfitt of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Yvonne spoke of the importance of protecting Treaty 8 territory while Ben explained the disastrous bills that B.C. ratepayers will be faced with should the project proceed.

Julian Napoleon of Saulteau First Nation

Julian Napoleon

I would like to say a special thanks to Julian Napoleon of the Saulteau First Nation and the Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty. Julian spoke passionately at six events across the province on the importance of protecting traditional territories and food systems.

Briony Penn speaking on Site C

Briony Penn speaking on Site C

Just last night, I spoke at an event on Salt Spring Island with author Briony Penn. Briony spoke about the impact of dams on people, flora and fauna. She also said that there should be an inquiry into government coercion of First Nations decision making processes.

It’s not too late to stop Site C. We’re building a plan to focus international attention on Ottawa to stop the dam and to make Site C a provincial election issue. Please chip in today to help us win.

Thank you.

Feature image by Louis Bockner.

Journey to the Peace Valley

By Galen Armstrong, Peace Valley Campaigner

November 2, 2016

About a month ago, I was asked to take up the mantle of Sierra Club BC’s Peace Valley Campaigner with the big goal of stopping the Site C dam (alongside many allies). The first thing I wanted to do was visit the Peace River Valley—to see it for myself for the first time, and to meet the people who have worked the longest and hardest to stop the incredibly foolish megadam proposal.

So I made a few arrangements and soon I was on the road. After a two-day drive through fall colours, I was in the spectacular Peace River Valley.

Yvonne Tupper of Saulteau First Nation. Photo by Louis Bockner.

Yvonne Tupper of Saulteau First Nation. Photo by Louis Bockner.

I spent a week in the area meeting First Nations and other community members, farmers and fellow activists. At the end of each day my mind was overflowing with information and I felt ever more disgusted that this project was even able to make it past the idea phase.

I met with Yvonne Tupper, a member of Saulteau First Nation. She welcomed me onto her Nation’s land and invited me to fish with her on Moberly Lake. West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations are fighting Site C in court, and we are fundraising to support their efforts to assert their rights, which should be protected by Treaty 8.

Site C dam construction camp. Photo by Louis Bockner.

Site C dam construction camp. Photo by Louis Bockner.

Local pilot Bob Fedderly took me on a flyover of the Site C dam worksite. The white structure in the upper-right of the photo is the $470 million work camp. What we saw is ugly, but it’s far from being a dam. They’ve done some logging, they’ve built the camp, and they’ve brought in machinery. But, as many locals monitoring the project reminded us, it’s nowhere near the “point of no return.”

Site C dam construction. Photo by Louis Bockner.

Site C dam construction. Photo by Louis Bockner.

Fedderly, who has watched the project slowly creep along, explained that the excavators we saw below were struggling day after day to secure slipping and eroding silt banks. It’s obviously an uphill battle. Landslides have been occurring on an increasingly frequent basis in the area over the past two years, sending toxic heavy metals into the river and putting nearby homes at risk. Many residents are worried that the dam will further destabilize the area.

This beautiful topsoil is much better suited for growing food. Agrologist Wendy Holm estimates that the Peace River Valley, which is rare Class-1 farmland (the best), could grow enough food to feed over one million people. But not if the valley is flooded, of course.

Arlene and Ken Boon with Stakes for the Peace. Photo by Louis Bockner.

Arlene and Ken Boon with stakes for the Peace. Photo by Louis Bockner.

I spent the week at the farm of Ken and Arlene Boon. The Boons were given the deadline of October 31, 2016 to reach an agreement with BC Hydro to sell their land and allow a new highway to pass directly through their farm and farmhouse. For now, they are fundraising for the First Nations legal challenge to Site C. They are offering to drive a yellow stake with your name on it into their front yard for every $100 donated. Learn more and plant a stake!

There are many more stories to share from my trip to the Peace Valley. I gave presentations in the Kootenays, where we raised $3000 for the legal challenges. Thank you Argenta, Kaslo, Nelson and Revelstoke! All the photos in this blog were taken by my travel buddy Louis Bockner, and you can see more on his Facebook page.

Please help Louis and I to take our photos, stories and Site C-stopping strategy across the province. We need the entire province to know what’s going on and demand the project be stopped. It’s not too late, but it is urgent!

If you would like to organize an event, contact me at galen@sierraclub.bc.ca. Donations are appreciated – in fact, we can’t travel without them. Learn more, sign our petition and please donate today to help us stop this dam project.

– Galen Armstrong, Sierra Club BC Peace Valley Campaigner

Bella Bella Disaster a Reminder of the Need for a Strong Tanker Ban

The recent sinking of the Nathan E. Stewart tug near Bella Bella in the Great Bear Rainforest has underscored the urgency of a permanent, legislated oil tanker ban. Accidents happen and this disaster is a sobering reminder that oil spills are impossible to clean up.

Response crews took over 20 hours to arrive and the spill has still not been contained three weeks later. Beaches remain soaked with diesel and littered with debris. Clean-up efforts have been sluggish and greatly hampered by storms, which have caused containment booms to fail.

Members of the Heiltsuk Nation have consistently described the spill response as “totally inadequate.” Their nation’s waters have been polluted with hundreds of thousands of litres of diesel fuel. Their clam and seafood beds are closed indefinitely, costing them tens of thousands of dollars in the short-term as well as long-term damage to their economy. Video updates and ways to support can be found on the Heiltsuk Tribal Council’s Facebook page.

heiltsuk-bella-bella-spill_kyle-artelle_forweb

A contaminated beach leaches diesel back into the marine environment. Photo by Kyle Artelle.

Although many may see this as a relatively small spill, it has already and will continue to have a disproportionate impact on the Heiltsuk. Sierra Club BC and many other organizations stand in solidarity with the Heiltsuk Nation, who are now caught between a provincial and a federal government too busy blaming each other to make any concrete policy changes that could prevent another devastating spill.

This is a heartbreaking nightmare. Trudeau needs to wake up and take his election commitments for a tanker ban and for a renewed relationship with Indigenous peoples seriously.

The Heiltsuk Nation are calling for an immediate implementation of a full and complete tanker ban. A strong tanker ban is the only sure way to protect B.C.’s coastal waters and wild salmon economy from a devastating oil spill. The federal government is about to make an announcement on a federal tanker moratorium, and we need to ensure it is strong, permanent, and legislated by Parliament.

That’s why we’ve set up an action centre where you can submit a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Garneau. Please send a message calling on them to implement a strong tanker ban on B.C.’s coast.

Coastal First Nations already have a ban on oil tankers, using their own laws. It’s about time we joined them to help put an end to Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline and tankers project. Please donate to help us continue this fight.

 

Cover image of diesel-soaked beach by Kyle Artelle.

The Great Site C Roadshow

The Great Site C Roadshow is on tour with eleven stops across B.C.!

Please join us in your town for a gathering full of inspiration, solidarity and action for the Peace Valley. Learn why Treaty 8 First Nations and Peace Valley farmers are standing strong for the Peace, and how we can support them to stop Site C. Speakers from the Saulteau First Nation and from Sierra Club BC will be joined along the way by a roster of inspiring advocates for the Peace Valley.

October 26 – Argenta  7:00PM (6:30 silent auction)
Argenta Community Hall  Facebook event
Julian Napoleon, Saulteau First Nation and Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty
Galen Armstrong, Sierra Club BC
Louis Bockner, Photographer

October 27 – Kaslo  7:00PM (6:30 silent auction)
The Langham, 447 A Ave.  Facebook event
Julian Napoleon, Saulteau First Nation and Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty
Galen Armstrong, Sierra Club BC
Louis Bockner, Photographer

October 28 – Nelson  6:00PM
Nelson United Church, 602 Silica St.  Facebook event
Julian Napoleon, Saulteau First Nation and Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty
Galen Armstrong & Ana Simeon, Sierra Club BC
Candace Batycki, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative

October 29 – Revelstoke  6:30PM
Okanagan Regional Library, 605 Campbell Ave.  Facebook event
Julian Napoleon, Saulteau First Nation and Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty
Ana Simeon, Sierra Club BC

November 4 – Quadra Island  7:00PM
Quadra Community Centre, 970 West Rd.  Facebook event
Julian Napoleon, Saulteau First Nation and Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty
Ana Simeon, Sierra Club BC
Bob Peart, Executive Director, Sierra Club BC

November 6 – Duncan  1:30PM
Somenos Room, Island Savings Centre, 2687 James St.  Facebook event
Hosted by Council of Canadians, Cowichan Chapter
Julian Napoleon, Saulteau First Nation and Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty

November 14 – Prince George  6:30PM
Room 7-212, UNBC, 3333 University Way  Facebook event
Hosted by Sea to Sands Conservation Alliance
Yvonne Tupper, Saulteau First Nation
Ana Simeon, Sierra Club BC
Ben Parfitt, Resource Policy Analyst, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

November 15 – Quesnel  7:00PM
St. John the Divine Anglican Church Parish Hall, 465 Kinchant St.  Facebook event
Ana Simeon, Sierra Club BC
Ben Parfitt, Resource Policy Analyst, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

November 16 – Williams Lake  7:00PM
Room 1261, Thompson Rivers University, 1250 Western Ave.  Facebook event
Ana Simeon, Sierra Club BC
Ben Parfitt, Resource Policy Analyst, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

November 26 – Kelowna 6:00PM
Unitarian Fellowship of Kelowna, 1310 Bertram St. Facebook event
Hosted by Feast for the Peace and Community Forum
Ken Boon, President Peace Valley Landowners Association (Via live video link )
Wendy Holm, Agrologist
Louis Bockner, Photographer

November 30 – Salt Spring Island 7:00PM
Salt Spring Island Public Library, 129 McPhillips Ave. Facebook event
Briony Penn, Author
Galen Armstrong, Peace Valley Campaigner, Sierra Club BC

 

Opposition to Site C is riding a huge wave of momentum. In September, Treaty 8 First Nations traveled across Canada to the federal appeal hearings in Montreal. As a result, Winnipeg Liberal MP Robert Falcon-Ouellette broke the party line, publicly calling out Prime Minister Trudeau for allowing Site C to violate Treaty 8.

Photo by Louis Bockner

Photo by Louis Bockner

In October, a UNESCO mission spent 10 days investigating the threat posed by Site C to the Peace-Athabasca Delta, a World Heritage Site. The feds must now face International scrutiny and repercussions if Site C is allowed to go ahead.

And the environmental destruction is only becoming more apparent. Scientists have discovered rare and vulnerable species in the dam flood zone that were missed in BC Hydro’s environmental assessment of the project. BC Hydro has applied for a licence that will allow it to demolish protected old-growth forest, migratory bird habitat and a rare wetland in the Peace Valley.

Harry Swain, who chaired the joint review panel on Site C, recently spoke out against Site C, calling it a very big and expensive mistake. In this video he explains why we don’t need Site C power.

Now is the time to take this wave even higher. Please donate today and join us in the fight to stop Site C.