FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — A civil claim by Prophet River First Nation against B.C.’s Site C project has been resolved with all parties coming to several agreements.
The B.C. government, BC Hydro and Prophet River First Nation reached two agreements that result in the discontinuation of the Nation’s civil claim against BC Hydro and the province on alleged infringement of Treaty 8 rights related to the dam project near Fort St. John.
The province has committed to working with Prophet River to improve land management and restore traditional place names in certain areas of cultural significance. Prophet River will also receive ongoing payments during the Site C project’s operation and the transfer of provincial Crown lands as well as a woodland licence for community forest management.
“BC Hydro, the Province of British Columbia and Prophet River First Nation worked collaboratively to reach these agreements,” said Chris O’Riley, BC Hydro president and CEO, in a press release. “These agreements represent an important step in resolving differences through good-faith dialogue and will help build a long-term, collaborative and mutually beneficial relationship.”
The groups also announced that B.C. and Prophet River will engage with local governments, stakeholders and neighbouring First Nations during land management discussions and prior to any Crown lands being transferred. Officials will now work to identify specific parcels of Crown land to propose for potential transfer.
The three groups also agreed to the following components:
- an impact benefits agreement between BC Hydro and Prophet River First Nation;
- a tripartite land agreement between BC Hydro, the provincial government and Prophet River First Nation; and
- a letter of commitment signed by the province.
“Site C has painfully impacted Prophet River and other Treaty 8 Nations,” said councillor Beverly Stager of the Prophet River First Nation. “These agreements cannot undo the past, but we are ready for 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.”
Prophet River First Nation officials stated it is a community of Dunne-za (Beaver people), whose ancestors have lived in northeast B.C. since “time immemorial.” Prophet River joined Treaty No. 8 in 1910 giving its members rights to hunt, fish, trap and carry out other traditional practices in areas that include the Peace River and the location of the Site C project.