VANCOUVER—A British Columbia First Nation has launched a lawsuit that could affect the province’s planned Site C hydroelectric dam and resource extraction in the province’s north.
The Blueberry River First Nations, whose traditional territory includes the proposed Site C project, filed the lawsuit in B.C.
Supreme Court, seeking injunction halting further development in the area.
The lawsuit argues the cumulative effect of decades of development has violated on the band’s rights and affected its way of life in violation of Treaty 8, which was ratified in 1900.
“There are vast dark zones in our territory where we are no longer able to practice our treaty rights,” said Blueberry River First Nations Chief Marvin Yahey.
He said oil and gas wells, pipelines and clearcuts had changed the land so much it would be unrecognizable to the band’s ancestors.
John Rich, the group’s lawyer, said the band tried for two decades to negotiate with the province to have its concerns over development taken seriously, but he said those efforts were fruitless.
He said the lawsuit was the band’s last resort.
“The Blueberry River First Nations’ back is against the wall,” said Rich.
“They are suing to get a remedy from the courts that they have not
been able to get through negotiation.”
The suit follows several recent legal cases that have expanded the influence First Nations have over development.