VICTORIA – The Province of British Columbia, West Moberly First Nations, BC Hydro and the Government of Canada have negotiated a settlement related to the Site C project in northeastern B.C.
West Moberly First Nations’ predecessor, the Hudson’s Hope Band of Indians, adhered to Treaty No. 8 in 1914, and under the treaty members of the nation have the right to hunt, trap, fish and carry out other traditional practices in areas including the Peace River and the location of the Site C project.
In the remainder of the civil claim, West Moberly First Nations has asserted 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, a provincial government release stated.
All parties in the settlement have agreed to pause the remainder of the civil claim and place it in abeyance and the B.C. government and West Moberly First Nations have agreed to enter into confidential government-to-government discussions to resolve remaining matters in litigation.
“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,” West Moberly First Nations Chief Roland Wilson said in a statement.
The settlement between the provincial government, BC Hydro and West Moberly First Nations includes 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 of B.C., BC Hydro and West Moberly and an agreement providing for the release of West Moberly’s claims against the Site C project.
“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,” added B.C. Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation Bruce Ralston.
“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.”
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.
“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,” said federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Marc Miller.
Treaty No. 8 was originally signed on June 21, 1899, by the Crown and First Nations of the Lesser Slave Lake area.