(West Moberly FN – Press Release – Moberly Lake, B.C. – Treaty 8 Territory – June 24, 2022) – West Moberly First Nations has entered into a partial settlement agreement with the Province of British Columbia, BC
Hydro, and Canada with respect to our outstanding claims aimed at protecting our
traditional territory. This represents settlement of a portion of our civil claim relating to the
Site C Dam.
The Site C Dam project will cause irreversible damage to land which has sustained West
Moberly and our ancestors for generations. Watercourses will be poisoned with
methylmercury. Key sites will be destroyed. Plant and wildlife habitat will be lost, and
species may never recover.
Site C was found by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination to clearly contravene Canada’s obligations under the Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination due to its impact on the ability of
Indigenous peoples to exercise their rights within a crucially important part of their
traditional territories. The government chose to proceed with the project without the free,
prior and informed consent of Indigenous peoples including West Moberly, contrary to the
obligations recognized in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous
The Site C Project cost has ballooned from $7.9 billion to $16 billion and counting. This
cost will be felt by ratepayers for decades. Even before the budget mushroomed to $16
billion, the British Columbia Utilities Commission found that an alternative low carbon
portfolio including wind and geothermal could provide as good if not better value to
West Moberly has been actively opposing the Site C Project and hydroelectric expansions
on the Peace River for decades. Our community has fought for our rights, culture, and
principles, forgoing economic and financial benefits from the Site C dam. For example,
we have not participated in contracting or procurement opportunities related to the
construction of Site C, despite the fact that we have a robust economic development arm,
and there were many lucrative procurement opportunities to help build the dam.
However, Site C has progressed to a point where it is unlikely that any judge will order
the dam dismantled. Because of this, we have reluctantly agreed to settle that portion of
our court case related to Site C.
West Moberly will take the benefits of the Site C settlement and direct them towards
reclaiming and restoring land, revitalizing our community’s culture and ways of life, and
protecting the best of what’s left. We will participate in activities related to mitigating the
effects of Site C, with a view to ongoing restoration, stewardship and management of our
With the Site C component of the claim settled, the remainder of the civil claim focuses
on the existing hydroelectric dams (the WAC Bennett and Peace Canyon dams and
related reservoirs and facilities), including their relationship to the cumulative impacts of
resource development in our territory. These dams were constructed, built, and continue
to operate without our consent. The balance of the claim will require the Court to grapple
with the cavalier way these dams were constructed without regard for impacts on
Indigenous Peoples, and the devastating effects these dams have had on plants and
wildlife in the region. The remaining portion of the claim represents our demand for Crown
accountability for blatant breaches of Treaty 8 that continue to cause ongoing and
West Moberly’s primary concern now is to do what we can to mitigate and heal some of
the damage that the Peace River valley has suffered through the construction of the three
dams, as well as through massive forestry, mining and oil and gas development. We will
continue to negotiate with the Crown with a view toward addressing these issues. During
this negotiation, the remaining portion of the claim is paused. However, if an agreement
is not reached, we will continue with the litigation.
West Moberly and our ancestors have been living in and around what is now Northeast
BC since time immemorial. From the Tse Kwa heritage site in Charlie Lake,
archaeological findings have shown continuous use by our Dunne-za predecessors for at
least 13,000 years. West Moberly, through our predecessor, the Hudson’s Hope Indian
Band, adhered to Treaty 8 in 1914, on the promises that there would be no forced
interference with our ways of life, and that, even though the land would be shared with
settlers, we would be as free to hunt, fish, trap, and maintain a way of life after signing
the Treaty as if we had never entered into it.
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