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Federal Government Faces Growing Calls to Halt Site C Dam

Organizations from across Canada urge Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take immediate action to halt construction of BC's Site C dam.

Media Release
February 11, 2016

Organizations from across Canada are urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take immediate action to halt construction of the Site C dam in northeastern British Columbia.

In an open letter released today, more than 25 organizations, including Amnesty International, the David Suzuki Foundation, and Sierra Club BC, denounced the project for violation of rights protected under Treaty 8, the Canadian Constitution, and international human rights law.

Although promoted by the government of BC as a “clean” source of renewable energy, the joint federal-provincial environmental impact assessment panel concluded that the Site C dam would severely and permanently undermine Indigenous peoples’ use of the land and destroy important cultural sites and a unique ecosystem.

“As we said in the letter, this is not just another resource development project,” said Candace Batycki, spokesperson for the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, one of the signatory organizations. “The Site C dam is one of the largest resource development projects underway in Canada and its impact on the environment and local First Nations will be severe. Given the review panel’s findings, it’s alarming that it was approved in the first place.”

The letter calls on the federal government to rescind all permits related to the construction of the dam and to review the previous government’s decision to approve the project despite its impact on Treaty rights.

Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians said, “Prime Minister Trudeau and his government made a clear public commitment to building a new relationship with Indigenous peoples based on respect for the Treaties, the Constitution, and international human rights law. If it intends to keep that promise, the federal government needs to take immediate, decisive action on Site C.”

Jennifer Henry, Executive Director of KAIROS said, “Reconciliation requires a definitive change from the treatment of Indigenous peoples that has already caused so much harm. As Canadians concerned about social justice and the environment, we are calling on Prime Minister Trudeau and his government to make it clear that respect for Treaty rights will not be sacrificed.”

Joe Foy, Wilderness Committee, said, “During the recent climate change negotiations in Paris, Canada was clear that ‘clean energy’ requires respect for both human rights and the environment. We’re asking that they put these principles into practice at home.”

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Media contact:

  • Candace Batycki, Program Director - British Columbia & Yukon, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative,
    (250) 352-3830 
  • Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations, Amnesty International Canada, (416) 363-9933 ext. 332
  • Joe Foy, National Campaign Director, Wilderness Committee, (604) 880-2580 (cell); (604) 683-8220 (office)

    The joint letter was signed by: 

Alliance 4 Democracy
The Anglican Eco-Justice Unit, Diocese of New Westminster
Amnesty International Canada
Blue Planet Project
BC Women's Institute
Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion - BROKE
Canadian Federation of Students
Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers)
Council of Canadians
Christian Peacemakers Team, Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Project
Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) Vancouver
Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS)
CPAWS-BC
David Suzuki Foundation
Earthroots
Ecojustice
Greenpeace Canada
KAIROS; Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
Oxfam Canada
Patagonia
Peace Valley Environment Association
Peace Valley Landowner Association
RAVEN (Respecting Aboriginal Values and Environmental Needs)
Skeena Wild Conservation Trust
Sierra Club BC
West Coast Environmental Law
Wilderness Committee
Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative