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Ottawa’s Wood Buffalo plan ‘not good enough’: First Nations PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Posted by Joan Russow   
Tuesday, 12 February 2019 20:47
Canada’s largest national park is at risk of losing its status as a World Heritage site due to the impacts of dams, oil development and climate change
Judith Lavoie Feb 7, 2019 
The federal government is promising to create artificial ice jams, strategically release water from BC Hydro dams and assess cumulative impacts on northern Alberta’s Peace-Athabasca delta in an attempt to retain the World Heritage status of Canada’s largest national park.
However, Ottawa’s long-awaited action plan for Wood Buffalo National Park rejects a World Heritage Committee recommendation calling on Canada to  conduct an environmental and social impact assessment of the controversial Site C dam. The action plan says the federal government’s hands are tied because an assessment of the project was completed by a federal-provincial review panel before the dam was approved in 2014.
“There is no legal mechanism in federal legislation to suspend or negate the authorization or undertake a new environmental assessment for a project that has been approved,” says the 96-page report compiled by Parks Canada, in consultation with 11 Indigenous communities and the B.C., Northwest Territories and Alberta governments.
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency is “actively verifying that BC Hydro is complying with the conditions,” the report adds.
In 2014 the Mikisew Cree First Nation, alarmed by the deteriorating park environment, asked UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee to add Wood Buffalo to the list of World Heritage in Danger.
Following a visit to the park by committee members and representatives of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, UNESCO warned that, because of poor management, the park was in danger of losing its World Heritage status and made 17 recommendations, including an assessment of the effects of Site C on the park.
Canada was asked to produce a plan addressing the recommendations and detailing how to restore ailing ecosystems in the 4.5-million hectare park.
Decreasing water levels cause for concern
Water levels in the Peace-Athabasca delta dropped after the 1968 construction of the Bennett dam on the Peace River, followed by the 1980 Peace Canyon dam. Indigenous communities, many of whom rely on the delta for fishing and hunting, are among those who fear the Site C dam — the third dam on the Peace River — will mean further decreases in water levels in the delta.
BC Hydro community relations manager David Conway disagrees that the delta’s water woes stem from the Bennett Dam or that Site C will be a threat.
“Researchers from a number of universities across Canada who conducted research at Wood Buffalo National Park have found the changes observed with the Peace Athabasca Delta are consistent with that of a naturally evolving delta with climate change,” Conway wrote in an emailed response to questions from The Narwhal.
“During the environmental assessment of Site C, we commissioned studies from leading experts to evaluate the potential downstream effects of the project and, in all cases, it was concluded that the project would have no notable effect on the Peace-Athabasca Delta,” he wrote.
The view from the ground is different and Indigenous communities say there are areas of the delta where they can no longer take boats to reach traditional hunting grounds, while fewer ice jams are changing the landscape and causing lakes to dry up.
Climate change is acknowledged as part of the cause — with the action plan estimating that the average annual temperature in the park has increased by two degrees and the winter temperature by four degrees — but residents believe many of the delta’s problems are caused by Peace River dams, water withdrawals by the oil and gas industry and contamination from the oilsands.
Cracked earth details in Wood Buffalo National Park’s Salt Plains Outlook trail. Photo: Louis Bockner / Sierra Club BC
Site C dam unaddressed in action plan
Site C looms large in those concerns, said Becky Kostka, Smith’s Landing First Nation lands and resources coordinator.
“This is not good enough. Canada really needs to step up,” said Kostka, who was hoping pressure from the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination would help push the federal government into taking another look at the ramifications of Site C.
Last month, the committee wrote to Canada’s ambassador to the UN expressing concerns that the dam would permanently affect the land rights of Indigenous peoples in B.C.
Galen Armstrong, a campaigner for Sierra Club B.C., said omission of a Site C assessment means the plan — although it includes some long-overdue measures for improving and monitoring the health of Wood Buffalo — fails  to address underlying issues.
The fact that BC Hydro is considering releases of water from the Bennett dam is an admission of the impact the dam has had downstream and building another dam is contrary to protecting the delta, Armstrong said.
“When the committee meets again, I don’t expect it to be satisfied with this response. Canada is leaving Wood Buffalo National Park open to earning a World Heritage Site in Danger status and, to me, it shows it wasn’t taken as seriously as it should have been,” he said.
Gillian Chow-Fraser, boreal program manager for the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, pored over the draft action plan and the final document looking for differences and, although she applauds the weight given to Indigenous experiences in the final version, she is disappointed the two documents are so alike.
It is odd to say cumulative impacts will be considered and then ignore the Site C dam, which is one of the biggest potential impacts, Chow-Fraser said.
“They don’t address the impacts of Site C at all. They just throw their hands up in the air and say it has been approved.”
Site C dam construction
Site C dam construction on the Peace River, July 2018. Photo: Garth Lenz.
Strategic water releases and ice dams
The action plan recommends coming up with a protocol to look at how water releases from the Bennett dam could enhance ice jam flooding and what risks “strategic flow releases” would have on communities and infrastructure downstream from the dam
Proposals include “enhancing” spring flooding and creating ice-dams from spray ice, but Chow-Fraser hopes any artificial manipulation of hydrology in the delta will be approached cautiously.
“We don’t know the potential knock-off effects,” she said.
“It seems like a really big action and I don’t know if it’s the most effective way of restoring the ecosystem — especially when they are ignoring Site C,” she said.
Melody Lepine, director of government and industry relations for the Mikisew Cree, believes timed releases from the dam could be positive and she is encouraged that BC Hydro is willing to help restore some ecological functions of the delta.
“It’s a start. BC Hydro needs to be part of the solution. They control the faucet,” said Lepine, who is also encouraged that the final plan toughens up the requirement for buffer zones around the park and that industry withdrawals of water from the Athabasca River will come under scrutiny.
Ken and Arlene Boon overlook the Site C dam
Peace Valley farmers Ken and Arlene Boon look out onto the Site C dam’s construction zone from a neighbour’s property downstream on the Peace River. Photo: Sarah Cox
Funding concerns
But a funding question mark hangs over the action plan with fears that the $27.5 million earmarked over five years by the federal government for development and implementation of the action plan isn’t enough.
Lepine, looking at potential costs, said Canada should have started budgeting for Wood Buffalo several years ago and determining a cost for the actions should have been part of the action plan development.
“Now it’s an afterthought,” she said, pointing out that Australia has spent half a billion dollars to restore the Great Barrier Reef. “When I look at other sites around the world and what other countries have spent, I give my head a shake.”
Lepine worries that the plan has big ambitions, but is too vague, leaving questions such as how, when and who is going to pay for it.
“There are so many issues and challenges, so it’s hard to measure what success will look like. That’s how Canada gets caught up in these broken promises,” she said.
Kostka echoes concerns that the plan lacks specific measurements — with Alberta’s role largely limited to dealing with problems through existing legislation — and that the funding is insufficient.
It is unclear how the existing funding will be used and whether Indigenous groups will be offered funding to help with implementation of the plan, she said.
“We need a long-term commitment…  I don’t know how many ways that $27.5 million can be split over five years,” Kostka said.
Lepine’s hopes are now pinned on the World Heritage Committee and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature  when the plan is presented in Azerbaijan in early July.
“I think the committee has a lot of influence and can push Canada to do something. Canada is not going to do anything unless they are forced to,” Lepine said.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 February 2019 13:20
Rachel LaFortune: "Rule of law" is not a justification for colonial violence in Wet'suwet'en pipeline dispute PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Posted by Joan Russow   
Friday, 08 February 2019 13:03
BY Rachel LaFortaine
by Guest on February 4th, 2019 at 5:06 PM

By Rachel LaFortune

By Rachel LaFortune
Tensions rise over pipeline project following truce between Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs and RCMP
David Suzuki: Pipeline blockade is a sign of deeper troubles
RCMP arrest 14 anti-pipeline activists at Gitdumt'en checkpoint on Wet'suwet'en territory
Showdown expected in northwestern B.C. between RCMP and Indigenous protesters over pipeline project
When governments rely on court-granted injunctions to define the “rule of law” in respect to Indigenous land occupations, they risk breaching their Constitutional and international human-rights obligations and undermining any chance at meaningful reconciliation.
Case in point: the injunction currently being enforced against Wet’suwet’en land and water defenders in British Columbia.
Last Updated on Friday, 08 February 2019 13:28
The ICCA Consortium stands with the Wet’suwet’en PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Posted by Joan Russow   
Wednesday, 30 January 2019 19:05
We submit this message to you as a demonstration of our support and solidarity as you uphold and defend your unceded, ancestral homeland. The Wet’suwet’en have the right to live in balance with their lands and waters and have a responsibility to defend their culture, language, and livelihood.
The ICCA Consortium is an international association under Swiss law uniting federations and organizations  of  indigenous  peoples,  local  communities  and civil  society  organisations concerned  with  the  appropriate  recognition  of  the territories  and  areas  conserved  by indigenous peoples and local communities (ICCAs) throughout the world.  We are a partner organization  of  the  Secretariat  of  the  Convention  on  Biological  Diversity  (CBD),  the  United Nations  Development  Programme  (UNDP  GEF  SGP)  and  the  International  Union  for  the Conservation  of  Nature  (IUCN).  Our direct Members  and  Honorary  members  span  over seventy-five countries.
No Access without Consent WEDZIN KWA CHECK POINT UNISTOTEN PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Posted by Joan Russow   
Tuesday, 15 January 2019 16:39
Rise and Resist's photo.

No More Business as Usual: We Stand with Wet'suwet'en!

SITE C contravenes the precautionary principle, risking irreversible harm, misconstrues the equitable remedy of the injunction and discounts indigenous rights. PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Posted by Joan Russow   
Saturday, 12 January 2019 23:03


Posted by Joan Russow
Monday, 30 July 2018 21:34

By JoanRussow  Global Compliance Research Project

Joan Russow founded the Global Compliance Research Project that  calls upon countries to comply with their international obligations and commitments. She has attended many international climate change, and environmental conferences.  Injunctions should be against those who cause irreversible harm not those who strive to prevent irreversible harm. Since Clayoquot Sound, she has been concerned about the misconstruing of injunctions and she is still saying, as she did then, “who are the real criminals?



Is it a crime to strive to prevent crime or is it a crime to cause and condone it?









Last Updated on Saturday, 12 January 2019 23:20
Alex Neve and Sarah Morales: Site C dam still far from ‘point of no return’ PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Posted by Joan Russow   
Tuesday, 20 November 2018 11:49
Alex Neve and Sarah Morales: Site C dam still far from ‘point of no return’
ALEX NEVE & SARAH MORALES Updated: November 19, 2018

Installation of concrete for the south-bank tailrace wall in July at B.C. Hydro's Site C dam construction project on the Peace River near Fort St. John. B.C. HYDRO / PNG

Installation of concrete for the south-bank tailrace wall in July at B.C. Hydro's Site C dam construction project on the Peace River near Fort St. John. B.C. HYDRO / PNG
Last month, the B.C. Supreme Court handed the Horgan government a victory that may prove much more costly than a defeat.
The West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations had asked the court to temporarily suspend construction of the Site C dam, or at least protect critical areas of the Peace Valley while their still unresolved Treaty rights challenge is being considered. On Oct. 24, Justice Warren Milman dismissed the injunction application entirely. This is exactly what the provincial government and B.C. Hydro had asked the court to do.
At the same time, the judge ruled that the First Nations’ legal challenge can continue with the possibility that, if the First Nations are able to prove their case, the dam could be stopped before plans to flood the Peace River Valley are completed.
In other words, the court told the province, if you so choose, you’re free to continue sinking billions of dollars into a project you might never be allowed to complete.
New rules inside the B.C. NDP could limit the ability for some members to publicly criticize the NDP government of Premier John Horgan. PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Posted by Joan Russow   
Monday, 15 October 2018 18:07

Rob Shaw

he Province

Published: October 14, 2018

Updated: October 14, 2018 6:00 PM PDT

New rules inside the B.C. NDP could limit the ability for some members to publicly criticize the NDP government of Premier John Horgan.

New rules inside the B.C. NDP could limit the ability for some members to publicly criticize the NDP government of Premier John Horgan. CHAD HIPOLITO / THE CANADIAN PRESS

New rules inside the B.C. NDP could limit the ability for some members to publicly criticize the NDP government of Premier John Horgan. CHAD HIPOLITO / THE CANADIAN PRESS

New rules within the B.C. NDP could limit people's ability to criticize the government and party policies.

VICTORIA — B.C.’s governing New Democratic Party has crafted new rules that could prevent some members and officials from publicly criticizing the decisions of Premier John Horgan’s government.

A draft of an internal NDP code of conduct, obtained by Postmedia News, shows it would require members of the party’s provincial executive and committees to sign non-disclosure agreements that forbid them from publicly disagreeing with party or government policies.

“Individuals agree that they shall, in all public statements (either written or verbal), promote the positions taken by the party through its duly constituted bodies and shall refrain from public criticisms of the party, its positions, or its elected officials,” reads the code of conduct. Any criticisms should be expressed only through internal channels, it reads.

The document also says all matters dealt with in party meetings are confidential and not to be discussed publicly.

The code is a draft, but could go before the NDP’s provincial council for a vote next month. It would apply to the provincial executive — which includes table officers and two representatives from each region of the province — and the NDP’s nine committees where members meet to discuss issues such as the environment, agriculture, women’s rights, youth, pride, people living with disabilities and Aboriginal representation.

Signed agreements could effectively act as gag orders for NDP members who disagree with the Horgan government’s decisions to approve the Site C dam, give tax breaks to the LNG Canada project and campaign in favour of proportional representation.

NDP officials argue the intention is not to silence people from speaking their minds, but instead to formalize what has been an implied obligation in the NDP constitution that

people who represent the party — especially on social media — do not criticize it or break with its positions in an official capacity.

“Individuals will still be individuals,” said NDP communications director Glen Sanford. “I think you know the NDP well enough to know there will always be robust discussions and our folks really don’t hold back on how they feel about things. That’s not going to change. The clarity that’s being looked for here is ensuring there’s procedures and lines of responsibility and accountability for people who are representing bodies of the party.”

Sanford said the party has already heard concerns from some members about the language used in the draft and the need to more explicitly state that people can still be critical of the party and government as long as they make clear it is their opinion.

The code of conduct, which also includes sections on conflict of interest and dispute resolution, is modelled after those used by federal political parties, unions and corporations, said Sanford.

Nonetheless, the code would be unique among B.C.’s political parties, where pressure to toe the party line is often real but usually unwritten.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 November 2018 23:09
Paddle for ?EL¸TOS and the Salish Sea! September 2 PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Posted by Joan Russow   
Friday, 24 August 2018 10:02

Tsawout Chief and Council invite all relations in WSÁNEC and neighbouring communities to participate in the PADDLE FOR ?EL¸TOS and the Salish Sea, in support of Tsawout's claim to the island, also known as James Island.

The event is taking place on Sunday, September 2, 2018, beginning at 9:00 am at ?IX_E? (Cordova Spit) with a community breakfast, followed by a paddle around ?EL¸TOS (James Island) and then a feast in the Tsawout Gymnasium.
The history of use and occupation is significant combined with significant archaeological history. The island was part of the homelands and provided a rich, productive way of life as it was well supplied with plantlife and surrounded by a rich variety of saltwater food supply (fish/shellfish). When it was taken over as part the war efforts it was still occupied and people felt that the island would be fully returned once it was no longer required. However, the history shows that the Tsawout/WSÁNEC People were forced off the island and it then became privatized and was eventually sold.
Last Updated on Monday, 10 September 2018 20:28
Tsawout First Nation invites community to join September 2 paddle for ?EL¸TOS and the Salish Sea PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Posted by Joan Russow   
Friday, 24 August 2018 09:48
Tsawout would like the Paddle event to be a fundraiser to assist with the research and legal work required for the claim and will be accepting donations prior to the event and at the event made out to TSAWOUT FIRST NATION with notation for “ ?EL¸TOS” (which can be mailed to Tsawout First Nation, 7728 Tetayut Road, Saanichton, BC  V8M 2E4).
To join the Paddle for ?EL¸TOS and the Salish Sea, sign up today at: www.TurningtheTide.ca/leltos.
Chief Harvey Underwood
Learn more by watching the:
Paddle for L?EL,TOS (James Island) and the Salish Sea Film
Arguments in Site C dam court case represent ‘cynical denial’ of Indigenous rights: B.C. Indian Chiefs PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Posted by Joan Russow   
Thursday, 09 August 2018 09:38
BC Hydro lawyers argue Treaty 8 never guaranteed any "practical, traditional, cultural, or spiritual connection to any land" for First Nations
By Sarah Cox Aug 7, 2018  

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip with his wife Joan Phillip at the 2017 Paddle for the Peace.

The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs has taken the unusual step of writing an open letter to Premier John Horgan denouncing legal arguments made last week by BC Hydro as a form of “neo-colonization” and demanding a formal apology from the provincial government.
BC Hydro’s lawyers made the arguments during ongoing B.C. Supreme Court hearings for an injunction application by West Moberly First Nations to halt work on the Site C dam on B.C.’s Peace River, pending a full civil trial to determine if the $10.7 billion project violates treaty rights.
“We call on you to publicly denounce these statements that diminish Indigenous rights in an open letter to the B.C. Supreme Court, and to apologize formally for the disrespect shown to the Treaty 8 First Nations,” said the letter, signed by Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), as well as vice-president Chief Robert Chamberlin and secretary treasurer Judy Wilson.
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