Amnesty International hosts talks in Prince George

The abuse of indigenous rights in British Columbia and actions of Canadian mining companies in Guatemala will be the subject of talks in Prince George Wednesday evening.

West Moberly Chief Roland Willson will report on the latest developments of the court challenge to the Site C dam and will put the dam in the context of cumulative impacts on indigenous title and rights.

“Our elders and knowledge-holders have clearly identified how Site C, in combination with the two dams built earlier on the Peace River and with other developments, will irrevocably alter our cultural values and practices,” says Chief Willson. “We are not opposed to development, what we are opposed to is the unnecessary impacts caused by development. There is absolutely no reason to destroy the Peace River valley in order to produce that electricity.”

In proceeding with Site C, he says: “BC hydro and the province are infringing on our treaty rights, rights that are protected by the constitution of Canada.

“We have applied for an interim injunction to suspend construction on the Site C dam and the federal government has withdrawn its opposition to that injunction,” he says. “We are calling on the provincial government to do the same.”

UNBC professor Dr Catherine Nolin and graduate student Rebecca Ferris will report on a recent field course and research in Guatemala where they and other students visited communities, activists, lawyers and concerned citizens involved in well-documented cases of repression, human rights violations and environmental damage caused by Canadian mining companies.

“We continue to be astounded by the deafening silence and/or denials about these abuses by the Canadian government, Guatemalan government, mining companies and their investors,” says Nolin.

“We should be long past discussions about improving corporate social responsibility. We should focus on long overdue needed reforms in Canada to hold our companies fully accountable, legally and politically, for repression, harms and violations they are causing in other countries.” 

The public is invited, there is no cost, and the presentations begin at 7 p.m. in the Omineca Arts Centre, 1119 Third Avenue in Prince George.

The evening is hosted by Amnesty International’s Prince George group as a prelude to National Indigenous Peoples Day, June 21.