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APTN: First Nations respond to meeting with federal ministers in Ottawa


“This dam just doesn’t make sense: legally, environmentally, or economically,” APTN quotes West Moberley First Nations Chief Roland Willson as saying. “It is a very stupid idea.”

The trip was also attended by Grad Chief Stewart Phillip, who says the project has been in the works since the 70’s, facing rejection twice, and goes on to say his lands have been “totally devastated by the oil and gas industry.”

“Enough is enough,” said Phillip during a press conference in Ottawa. “Elders have mandated Treaty 8 chiefs to defend their homeland by any means.”

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Phillips says there are 30,000 gas wells spread throughout the territory, with 80,000 more in the works.

The press conference was also attended by First Nation Chief Liz Logan and interim National Chief Ghislain Picard in a show of solidarity.

Provincial and Federal Environment Ministers are expected to make a final decision sometime in October on whether to approve an Environmental Assessment Certificate for the massive dam slated for the Peace River.

“I am confident that the views and information that have been gathered provide a strong basis for well informed decisions with respect to the environmental effects of the project, impacts on existing and potential Aboriginal and Treaty rights and whether the project should proceed,” B.C.’s Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq wrote in a letter to Willson earlier in the year.

First Nations Chiefs wanted to meet with Aglukkaq in Ottawa, but she declined, saying doing so would undermine her impartiality.

“It would not be appropriate for me to discuss any matter relating to the project with an interested party to ensure fairness to all parties,” Aglukkaq wrote in the same letter to Willson.

If an Environmental Assessment Certificate is approved, it will be up to the provincial government to decided if, and how much money they want to invest in the project.

The massive project is reported to have the possibility of generating approximately 1,035 megawatts of power, but is also said to have the same possibility of flooding 9,000 hectares of agricultural land and wildlife habitat.

With files from APTN

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