Now, the Peace River Valley is threatened by the Site C dam—the largest of many industrial projects in northeastern BC. Site C would flood more than one hundred kilometres of the Peace River and its tributaries. The dam would cut off a key migration route for wildlife, with severe impacts on wetlands, migratory birds and sensitive species such as wolverines, caribou and grizzly bears. It would flood some of BC’s highest quality farmland, an area capable of providing fruits and vegetables for a million people every year.
The Peace Valley is one of the few remaining places where Treaty 8 Nations can hunt, fish and engage in cultural activities to maintain their identity and connection to the land. These rights, guaranteed by Treaty 8, cannot be exercised when hunting grounds are under water, moose populations are decimated, and fish are contaminated with toxic methylmercury from decaying vegetation. Site C would obliterate hundreds of archaeological sites, including an Indigenous grave site and ceremonial sites.
Treaty 8 Nations, Peace Valley farmers and landowners, and groups including Sierra Club BC and the Peace Valley Environment Association (PVEA) have been fighting Site C since the 1980s. Leo Rutledge, a board member with Sierra Club BC, campaigned strongly against the proposal and founded the PVEA. The project was proposed and then shelved twice before reappearing again in 2010 to become a major BC government priority.
For many years, Sierra Club BC worked in coalition to campaign strongly against the dam, drawing media attention, producing videos, fundraising to support Indigenous Nations in court challenges, and doing speaking tours with members of the Nations including Julian Napoleon and Yvonne Tupper as well as Peace Valley farmers Ken and Arlene Boon.