The two First Nations were formed out of the division of the Fort St. John Beaver Band in 1977, sharing a common history and many kinship ties. Today, that common history is a driving force in their shared opposition to the flooding of the Peace River Valley.
“Our ancestors were the first signatories to Treaty 8 in this province, signing the Treaty with Canada in 1900 on the banks of the Peace River at Old Fort,” Doig River Chief Norman Davis explained in a written statement. “That river is a central part of our history and we strongly oppose its destruction. The river valley contains many culturally important sites, including the burial site of one of our former chiefs, Chief Attachie.”
Blueberry River Chief Marvin Yahey is said to have been raising concerns about the cumulative impacts of resource development in northeast B.C. since his election in December 2013.
“The provincial government has taken enough out of our Treaty territory – the prosperity of this province comes at our expense,” Chief Yahey said in the same written statement. “Our members have been cut off from their culture and natural food source and our communities suffer as a consequence. We are not going to let the Peace River become the next casualty in the province’s economic agenda.”
Kelvin Davis, Doig River Councillor and former Chief, says he’s seen significant changes on the land since his childhood.
“I told the panel members at the Site C hearings that I wanted to teach my grandson how to hunt, but that many of the animals were contaminated,’ Councillor Davis writes. “It is getting harder and harder to hunt and fish up here with all of the development that now surrounds us.”
“We told the Crown about our concerns with Site C over and over again,” says Chief Yahey. “We asked them not to make a decision until we had been meaningfully consulted and our concerns had been addressed, but they ignored us and approved the dam anyway.”
The two First Nations say they’ll continue meeting with provincial and federal leaders to review their options as they continue their opposition to the proposed Site C Dam.