THE Province of British Columbia, BC Hydro, Canada and West Moberly First Nations have negotiated a settlement related to the Site C project, the Province announced on Monday.
This is a partial settlement of West Moberly First Nations’ civil claim against BC Hydro, Canada and the Province.
BC Hydro and the Province will provide West Moberly First Nations with, among other benefits, financial benefits, contracting opportunities, the transfer of provincial Crown lands, and jointly developed recommendations for land management measures over provincial Crown lands.
The settlement between the Province, BC Hydro and West Moberly First Nations includes the following components:
* an impact and benefits agreement between BC Hydro and West Moberly;
* two agreements between BC Hydro and West Moberly providing West Moberly contracting opportunities;
* a tripartite land agreement, between the Province, BC Hydro and West Moberly; and
* an agreement providing for the release of West Moberly’s claims against the Site C project.
The settlement between Canada and West Moberly First Nations includes an agreement settling the litigation claims against Canada related to the Site C project.
In the remainder of the civil claim, West Moberly First Nations has asserted that the existing hydroelectric dams on the Peace River and the cumulative impacts of resource development in their territory are an infringement of their Treaty rights. The parties have agreed to pause the remainder of the civil claim and place it in abeyance, and the Province and West Moberly First Nations have agreed to enter into confidential government-to-government discussions to resolve the remaining matters in the litigation.
West Moberly First Nations is a community of Dunne-za, Saulteau and Cree people, whose ancestors have lived in northeastern B.C. since time immemorial. West Moberly First Nations’ predecessor, the Hudson’s Hope Band of Indians, adhered to Treaty No. 8 in 1914.
Chief Roland Willson, West Moberly First Nations, said: “The Site C project has had major impacts on our community, and the flooding and operation of this dam will have effects that will be felt for generations to come. The decision to settle this part of the court case was taken with a heavy heart and with serious considerations of the best interests of our community. Our focus now turns towards efforts to heal what remains of our land, to heal our people, and to protect our way of life in the face of all the resource development in Treaty No. 8 territory.”
Bruce Ralston, B.C.’s Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation, said: “I want to acknowledge the good faith, commitment and hard work of West Moberly First Nations in coming together with BC Hydro, the Government of Canada and the Province in the spirit of reconciliation to negotiate these important agreements. I recognize West Moberly First Nations have concerns about the impacts of the Site C project, that the negotiations to reach a settlement have been challenging, and the decision to release their claims against the project was difficult. The agreements provide a way forward, built on respectful dialogue, that recognizes and helps to mitigate the impacts of the Site C project on West Moberly First Nations, while ensuring benefits from the project will flow to the West Moberly community.”
Murray Rankin, B.C.’s Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, said: “Today’s agreements with West Moberly First Nations are an example of our shared commitment to pursue negotiations over litigation as the primary forum for achieving reconciliation and renewed Crown-Indigenous relationships. I commend the work that has been undertaken by our partners, West Moberly First Nations, BC Hydro and the Government of Canada to achieve these milestone agreements, and I hope that it will lay the foundation for a prosperous future.”
Marc Miller, federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, said: “These agreements provide a way forward that recognize and help to mitigate the impacts of the Site C project on West Moberly First Nations, while ensuring benefits from the project will flow to the West Moberly community. I want to acknowledge the commitment and hard work of West Moberly First Nations and all of the partners involved who negotiated these important agreements in the spirit of reconciliation.”
Chris O’Riley, President and CEO, BC Hydro, said: “Building respectful and meaningful relationships with West Moberly First Nations and all Treaty 8 First Nations impacted by Site C is a priority for BC Hydro. These agreements are an important step in advancing this relationship between West Moberly First Nations and BC Hydro as we move away from litigation. I appreciate that it has been a difficult decision for West Moberly to resolve its claims against Site C. These agreements provide us a foundation to move forward together in a manner that fosters a mutually beneficial relationship. I would like to thank West Moberly First Nations, the Province and Canada for their efforts in working with BC Hydro to complete these important agreements.”
* Treaty No. 8 was originally signed on June 21, 1899, by the Crown and First Nations of the Lesser Slave Lake area.
* West Moberly First Nations is an adherent to Treaty No. 8, along with seven other First Nations in northeastern B.C., which are also signatories or adherents to Treaty No. 8.
* West Moberly is located at the west end of Moberly Lake, approximately 90 kilometres southwest of Fort St. John, within the territory covered by Treaty No. 8, and has 366 members.
* West Moberly First Nations members have rights to hunt, fish, trap and carry out other traditional practices in accordance with their way of life under Treaty No. 8 in areas that include the Peace River and the location of the Site C project.