Mikisew Cree (MCFN) and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations (ACFM) say their challenge goes to the government’s discontent of considering Site C’s downstream effects on the Peace Athabasca Delta.
“There is too much at stake in the Delta to ignore potential effects of yet another dam on the Peace River,” said MCFN Chief Steve Courtoreille. “Governments needed to take a cautious approach and ensure they understood effects to the Delta and on the Mikisew before they approved Site C. Unfortunately, they chose not to do so.”
The Delta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as it’s one of the largest freshwater deltas in the world, home to a number of threatened species.
It includes the ancestral lands and waters of the ACFN and MCFN people, an area where they maintain a harvest, practice their culture and employ their Treaty 8 rights.
It’s also being reported that water levels in the Delta have been severely reduced by development, including prior dams on the Peace River.
This decrease is said to have put an assortment of wildlife species at risk, changed vegetation, and made it more difficult for MCFN and ACFN members to access areas within the Delta and engage in their traditional practices.
MCFN and ACFN say they fear that the Site C dam will be the tipping point for the Delta, pushing this unique ecosystem beyond any possible recovery.
ACFN Chief Allan Adam echoes the concerns of Courtoreille.
“When they built the Bennett Dam, no one thought about how the Delta might be affected. No one thought about how First Nations might be affected,” Adam said. “Once the dam was built, it was too late to address our concerns. We are worried that history is repeating with Site C.”
Both First Nations are signatories to Treaty and are located within the lower reaches of the Peace River and within the Delta.