Luke Wallace – Farmland First – Save the Peace Valley
North America is entering an era of cheap, low impact energy production through the creation of wind and solar farms, tidal energy facilities and geothermal power plants. Every month, the cost to produce these renewable energies falls. And yet, here in British Columbia, Canada, the recently elected New Democratic Party has decided, against every piece of scientific, economic and moral advice, to approve the Site C Dam.
Proposed over 60 years ago, and with a rapidly climbing price tag of $10 Billion, the Site C Dam is the most expensive public investment ever proposed in BC. The concerns and problem riddling Site C are seemingly endless, but I’d like to highlight a few before addressing what actions we can take. First, the Site C Dam is in direct violation of Treaty 8. As I write this, the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations are in court against the BC government to halt work on the dam until Treaty rights are considered (Canada has a long history of building huge projects, to only decide, upon their completion, that Treaties were violated). There is no reconciliation in this country if projects like this continue without Indigenous consent. Chief Roland Wilson represents the West Moberly First Nation and shared a few words before entering the courthouse;
“We’re fighting for the survival of who we are as people and the Peace River Valley is a significant piece of that” “If what’s going on up here [Treaty 8 territory], would happen down there [Southern BC], they would shut it down in a heartbeat. There’d be no messing” Second, this dam is stifling the growth and investment capital available for decentralized, renewable energy projects like community solar farm and First Nation led tidal projects. The BC government has the potential to create tens of thousands of long-term jobs through the implementation of small scale, independent power producers (IPP’s) and in doing so alleviate poverty in some of the most remote regions of the province. Simply put, this dam in being built to power the expansion of the tar sands and fracking fields of western Canada and, through deep political lobbying by oil and gas corporations, the taxpayers are footing the bill. Sold as a clean energy solution, Site C is anything but clean.
Finally, the Site C Dam would flood more than 100km of the Peace River Valley and it’s tributaries. Contained in this area are ancient Indigenous burial grounds, ceremonial sites and hunting grounds. The valley is host to some of the richest farmland in the country and has the potential to feed a million people a year. In an area where communities struggle to access fresh, nutrient dense food, the Peace Valley could be the breadbasket of northern communities.
When I heard that the above mentioned court case was scheduled to start on July 23rd, I saw an opportunity to bring community together in solidarity with Treaty 8 Nations. The idea turned into Farmland First – No Site C Dam. On July 21st, 2018 farmers, musicians, activists, families and many others gathered at the UBC Farm to raise money for the court costs and awareness around the Site C Dam. Folk legend Shari Ulrich started off the afternoon, followed by Corrina Keeling and then myself, Luke Wallace.
A critical part of the afternoon was spreading the word about witnessforthepeace.ca This website is your guide to all things Site C and offers an opportunity learn about the dam and the court cases. It also has avenues for action including personal and organizational outlets. Though the Site C Dam is riddled with corruption and is a massive step backwards, it also brings to light the pieces of our society that need addressing. It’s a little like lifting a stone to see what is hiding in the shadows. Here in BC we have huge strides to take in the realm of political transparency, reconciliation with Indigenous people, and energy production. Lets use Site C as a focal point for these issues and organize together to lift everyone up. It’s time to Give a Dam https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DkxnLEGQ8A