FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — A group of 14 First Nations that live downstream from the Site C dam in the Mackenzie River watershed are calling on Premier John Horgan to scrap the controversial project.
The downstream Indigenous communities have united to express their shared opposition to Site C. “History has shown that downstream indigenous communities bear enormous costs when BC Hydro puts the Peace River and downstream waters at risk,” said the group in an open letter to Horgan. The fourteen First Nations communities live in the Mackenzie River Basin, which also includes the Peace and Slave Rivers, along with Athabasca and Great Lake, forming the second-longest river system in North America.
The fourteen organizations and communities named in the letter are:
- Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation
- Deninu K’ue First Nation
- Fort Chipewyan Metis Local 125
- Fort McMurray Metis Local 1935
- Lubicon Lake Band
- Northwest Territory Metis Nation
- Tallcree First Nation
- Beaver First Nation
- Duncan’s First Nation
- Fort McKay Metis
- Little Red River Cree Nation
- Mikisew Cree First Nation
- Smiths Landing First Nation
- Woodland Cree First Nation
Among the reasons to cancel the project, the First Nations say that officials from UNESCO and the IUCN found that Site C would have negative downstream effects to the Wood Buffalo National Park World Heritage Site.
They also say that the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination determined that proceeding with Site C would be inconsistent with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, stating, “The impact of this dam on Indigenous Peoples would be permanent, extensive, and irreversible.” Earlier this year, Horgan stated that the NDP would govern according to the terms of UNDRIP.
The downstream Indigenous communities said that Site C poses a risk to their way of life, rights and cultures.