The Site C Dam: A Perspective on Aboriginal & Treaty Rights

The Site C Dam is a large-scale hydroelectric dam currently under construction on the Peace River in northeastern British Columbia. It is situated on the traditional territory of the Treaty 8 First Nations. The dam has been highly contested by these First Nations and has been the subject of a number of cases brought before both the Federal Court and BC’s courts. In early February, the BC Court of Appeal, affirming the decision of the Supreme Court of BC, dismissed the Prophet River and West Moberly First Nations’ petition for judicial review of the provincial government’s decision to grant environmental permits to BC Hydro for the project. Although the cases discussed in this episode relate to the Site C Dam, they have much broader implications for First Nations peoples with respect to securing recognition of constitutionally protected rights.

We were joined by John Gailus, a founding partner and director of the firm Devlin, Gailus & Watson in Victoria. John appeared as counsel for the Prophet River and West Moberly First Nations in their applications for judicial review and has extensive experience practicing in the area of Aboriginal law. We were also joined by Caleb Behn, a member of the West Moberly First Nation, a former lawyer, and fervent advocate. Caleb has worked diligently to promote awareness and education surrounding Aboriginal Rights and issues through a variety of avenues, including the documentary ‘Fractured Land’, the organization Keepers of the Water, and countless articles and interviews featured on a variety of platforms.