Press Release: First Nations Resolute in Seeking Just Resolution With Respect to Transmission Line Project
- For your immediate attention
First Nations Resolute in Seeking Just Resolution With Respect to Transmission Line Project
April 6, 2011 - for immediate release
Vancouver: The Nlaka'pamux Nation Tribal Council, Okanagan Nation Alliance and Upper Nicola Indian Band remain resolute in their challenge to BC Hydro's proposed $600 million Interior to Lower Mainland transmission line project despite a disappointing decision from the BC Supreme Court on March 31, 2011.
The case challenged the Environmental Assessment Certificate issued to BC Hydro by the Province on June 3, 2009. In January 2009 then Minister of Energy Richard Neufeld and Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Michael de Jong promised to consult with the NNTC, ONA and UNIB regarding the full impacts of the ILM system, including the existing transmission lines and the proposed new line. After negotiating a plan to move ahead on those consultations in February 2009, the Ministers broke their promise and quietly abandoned the consultations prior to issuing the EAC. The Court did not accept the NNTC's, ONA's and UNIB's request that the EAC be suspended and the Ministers ordered to fulfill their promise.
"It's a sad day when the Court confirms that a Minister's promise isn't worth the paper it's written on," said Chief Bob Pasco, Chair of the NNTC. "We'll add this to a long list of broken promises made to us and other First Nations and carry on the fight just as our people have always done."
"It was so obviously dishonourable for the Ministers to make a commitment to work with us and then walk away without even an explanation, we expected the Court to agree they had to be held to account, " said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Chairperson of the ONA and President of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs. "Make no mistake, we're not backing down. We'll continue to do everything we can to ensure that our Aboriginal title and rights are respected."
"We've won two decisions over this transmission line so far," said newly elected Chief Daniel Manuel of Upper Nicola, noting that earlier decisions on the same transmission line by the B.C. Court of Appeal and the B.C. Utilities Commission were in favour of the First Nations. "Instead of just sitting down and working out a solution, the Province keeps forcing us to go to court to protect our interests. This isn't our community's preferred way to resolve land and resource issues, but we're prepared to do what it takes to achieve a just resolution."
Despite the recent decision, the proposed ILM project cannot currently proceed. The required Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for the project remains suspended as BC Hydro was found by the B.C. Utilities Commission to have not adequately consulted and accommodated First Nations with respect to that required permit.
The NNTC represents Nlaka'pamux Nation Aboriginal title and rights, including the Nlaka'pamux community of Spuzzum which is located in the Fraser Canyon north of Yale, where an existing transmission line was built over a village site. The ONA represents seven member Bands of the Okanagan Nation, including Upper Nicola. UNIB reserves are located in close proximity to the large Nicola substation, which takes up lands used by the Okanagan Nation for hunting, fishing and other traditional uses.
For more information, contact:
Chief Daniel Manuel, Upper Nicola Band (Cell: (250) 378-1986),
Chief Bob Pasco, Nlaka'pamux Nation Tribal Council (Cell: (250) 371-0775),
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Chair, Okanagan Nation Alliance (Cell: (250) 490-5314).
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]