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

Two new COVID-19 cases reported in Interior Health

The total number of Interior Health cases since the beginning of the pandemic is now at 522

Greens, Liberals, NDP field Fraser-Nicola candidates ahead of October election

Incumbent Jackie Tegart has two opposing candidates after snap election called Monday

Work has started on 20 units of seniors’ housing in Clinton

Much-delayed project has been in the works for almost a decade

Cache Creek firefighters plan bigger, better Halloween fireworks

‘With so much uncertainty in the world it’s nice to know that one community event is staying intact’

Volunteers welcome at this year’s Black Powder Desert Rendezvous

Plus farmers’ markets, an art show, a bottle drive, a Fire Prevention Week contest, and more

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

2 British Columbians arrested, 3 at large in massive Alberta drug bust

Eight people are facing 33 charges in what police have dubbed Project Incumbent

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Trudeau ‘disappointed’ by RCMP treatment of Sikh officers over mask issue

World Sikh Organization of Canada said taking Sikh officers off the front lines constitutes discrimination

Liberals reach deal with NDP on COVID-19 aid bill, likely averting election

NDP and the Liberals have reached an agreement on COVID-19 sick-leave

Money laundering inquiry delayed over of B.C. election: commissioner

Austin Cullen says the hearings will start again on Oct. 26

Most Read