A Fort Nelson-based leader with the Treaty 8 First Nations in northeastern B.C. says she was given 30 minutes before the United Nations to address “frustration” over the cumulative impacts of resource extraction in her territory.
“Typically, when you go in front of a UN forum, you’re given three to five minutes, and when your time’s up, they cut you off,” Treaty 8 Tribal Association tribal chief Liz Logan said. “So we were given 30 minutes, and that was great, and so we expanded on our submission and gave them some more details, and basically requested that he [UN special rapporteur James Anaya] intervene on our behalf and remind Canada that they did sign on to the [UN] Declaration [on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples], and that they need to abide by its articles and principles.”
Logan said she has no faith the government of B.C. will listen to Treaty 8 concerns, as development in and around the Peace River region, and further north to the Horn River Basin, has continued at rapid pace through successive provincial governments in Victoria.
“We’ve been dealing with oil and gas since the 1940s, and the eight million cubic metres of timber that they cut annually, the four big mines that are currently now operational—six on the block to be approved,” Logan added. “This province’s environmental assessment processes are flawed. In our mind, we have yet to see a project denied or rejected. They have removed the oversight of Site C [dam] from the B.C. Utilities Commission.”
Anaya, the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, had sent out a bulletin asking indigenous peoples to send in submissions on resource extraction in their territories and the cumulative impacts on those developments, Logan added. Now she hopes to effect change through that channel.
“I know that they don’t have any legal force to make states do things, but it usually is made public, and so they can publicly embarrass governments,” Logan said. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed that they will do something like that.”
Tonight (May 31), Logan will speak at Heritage Hall (3102 Main Street) during a Wilderness Committee-hosted event dealing with the Site C dam.
The event comes on the second leg of a provincewide Site C speaking tour featuring Logan, Diane Culling of Peace Valley Environment Association and Joe Foy of the Wilderness Committee.