On a trip to discourage the federal government from going through with the controversial Site C dam, Fort Nelson First Nation Chief Liz Logan and West Moberly First Nation Chief Roland Willson visited Ottawa with Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs Grand Chief Phillip Stewart to try and lobby Federal officials against BC Hydro’s proposed hydroelectric dam.
It was reported before their trip that the chiefs were particularly upset by one conclusion of the federal-provincial Joint Review Panel, which chose earlier this year not to stand in the way of Site C.
According to the panel, construction of Site C would cause a “significant adverse effect” on fishing, hunting and non-tenured trapping for local First Nations that “cannot be mitigated.”
The chiefs consulted with a variety of federal politicians from four major political parties, including the NDP, the Conservatives and Liberals as well as Green Party MP Elizabeth May.
Two prominent Liberal MPs, John McKay and Carolyn Burnett, seemed to show a sympathetic ear towards the chief’s concerns.
McKay, the Liberal Party’s environment critic, said that this point, the environmental damage and concerns of local shareholders “doesn’t seem to be a threshold that’s been properly addressed (by Site C)” right now.
“I’ve read the press release and various materials that were put out by the Treaty 8 Tribal Association and they seem to make a pretty compelling case that this is not a feasible project,” he said. “It does seem strange that they want to flood a river valley where there’s a lot of agricultural and environmental activity.”
Logan was the head of the Treaty 8 Tribal Association at least until August, when she was elected chief of Fort Nelson First Nation. She said she planned to resign her Treaty 8 post at that time, but it is unclear if that resignation was official, and who if anyone now directs the association.
However, McKay backed off from definitively supporting or opposing Site C. “It’s cabinet that has to show that the concerns raised by stakeholders have actually been addressed,” he said.
In a tweet, Carolyn Burnett, the Liberal Party’s Aboriginal Affairs critic, thanked Logan for her “clarity and passionate convincing objections” to the proposed Site C dam. This was eventually followed with the hashtag “#treatyrights.”
During an earlier discussion with the chiefs, Prince George-Peace River MP Bob Zimmer
said that “issues were presented, and they have some interesting ideas, and some ideas that should be looked into in terms of alternate forms of energy.”