The Site C Dam location is seen along the Peace River in Fort St. John, B.C., Tuesday, April 18, 2017. The Prophet River First Nation, B.C. government and BC Hydro have reached an agreement ending a civil suit launched by the First Nation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Agreement between province, BC Hydro, First Nation, ends legal fight over Site C

B.C. will work to improve land management and restore traditional place names in areas of cultural significance

A British Columbia First Nation has ended its legal battle against the provincial government and BC Hydro over the Site C dam, a project the nation originally claimed was a $1-billion treaty violation.

A statement from the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation says the Prophet River First Nation, province and BC Hydro have reached agreements ending the civil claim.

The matter involved the allegation that development of BC Hydro’s Site C dam on the Peace River in northeastern B.C., would destroy Indigenous territory and violate Aboriginal rights protected by Treaty 8.

The statement, released jointly by the province, Crown utility and First Nation, says B.C. will work to improve land management and restore traditional place names in areas of cultural significance.

Prophet River also receives ongoing payments while the Site C project is operating, and provincial Crown lands will be transferred to the nation along with a licence for woodland management.

Next steps in the process include identifying specific parcels of land for potential transfer and discussions with local governments, neighbouring First Nations and others about the plans.

The statement says components of the agreement include an impact benefits agreement, tripartite land deal and letter of commitment from B.C.

The Province and hydro also say they are committed to implementing the agreements with Prophet River in recognition of the cultural values and Treaty rights of the Fort Nelson-area Nation.

Coun. Beverly Stager with the Prophet River First Nation says Site C has “painfully impacted” Treaty 8 Nations and these agreements “can’t undo the past” but instead offer a new future.

“We accept the promise of a better relationship with B.C. and BC Hydro and have faith that these agreements will help to protect what remains of the Treaty 8 lands and waters cherished so deeply by our people,” Stager says in the statement.

This civil lawsuit was filed in early 2018 when the Prophet River and West Moberley First Nations alleged the multibillion-dollar project failed to “uphold the duty of the Crown.”

One year earlier, Treaty 8 Nations announced — based on a $225-million award to Indigenous groups in Northern Quebec in 1975 over the James Bay Hydro project — that it was due a settlement of about $1 billion.

A B.C. Supreme Court date on that civil claim had been set for 2022, but Hydro, the two First Nations and the B.C. government entered talks 18 months ago, to avoid court action.

Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, says B.C.’s preference is always to resolve issues at the table, rather than through the courts.

“We appreciate the commitment by leadership from Prophet River First Nation and BC Hydro to keep talking so we could come to a resolution,” Fraser says.

“By having everyone at the table and working together with collaboration and respect, we can move away from uncertainty and conflict, and create opportunities that benefit everyone in B.C.”

Prophet River First Nation’s nearly 300 members have rights to hunt, fish, trap and carry out other traditional practices under Treaty 8 in areas that include the Peace River and the location of the Site C project.

The Canadian Press

IndigenousSite C

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Totem pole considered cultural appropriation removed from Nelson’s Hume School

The pole had also become rotted and was seen as dangerous to students

Rossland resident Aerin Bowers completes 19-km swim along Christina Lake

Bowers said her dad inspired her to complete the epic adventure

Trail RCMP report golf course break-in, lost child and more

Anyone with information about the Birchbank break-in is asked to call the Trail RCMP

Without federal aid, the future of B.C. air transport is bleak

Air traffic remains down 75 to 85 per cent

RDCK rescinds evacuation alert for properties near Talbott Creek fire

Cooler and wetter condition are expected to help crews fight fire in coming days

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

Four more cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 31 active cases in isolation in the health region

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Liberal effort to reset policy agenda panned by rivals as too much talk, not action

Trudeau said it’s ‘all too likely’ families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

‘Show us the money’ for cannabis, local governments tell B.C.

Municipal tax, transit revenues falling as costs rise

‘It’s a boy’: Southern Resident killer whale calf born to J Pod is healthy, researchers say

J35 had previously done a ‘Tour of Grief,’ carrying her dead calf for 17 days

People ‘disgusted’ by COVID-19 election call, B.C. Liberal leader says

Andrew Wilkinson speaks to municipal leaders from Victoria

Most Read