Mikisew Cree First Nation

Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation

Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation

November 13, 2014 09:00 ET

First Nations Bring Legal Challenge to the Site C Dam Project to Protect the Peace-Athabasca Delta

FORT CHIPEWYAN, ALBERTA--(Marketwired - Nov. 13, 2014) - Mikisew Cree First Nation ("MCFN") and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation ("ACFN") filed a lawsuit in Federal Court yesterday, challenging the federal approval of the Site C dam project on the Peace River in British Columbia.

The First Nations are challenging the dam project because of concerns that government did not properly consider Site C's downstream effects on the Peace Athabasca Delta. The Delta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of the largest freshwater deltas in the world and home to a number of threatened species. It comprises the ancestral lands and waters of the ACFN and MCFN people, where they continue to harvest, practice their culture and exercise their Treaty 8 rights.

Water levels in the Delta have been dramatically reduced by development, including previous dams on the Peace River. The decrease has put various species of wildlife at risk, altered the vegetation, and made it more difficult for MCFN and ACFN members to access areas within the Delta and engage in their traditional practices. The Delta is in a fragile state and is extremely sensitive to further impacts. MCFN and ACFN fear that the Site C dam will be the tipping point for the Delta, pushing this unique ecosystem beyond any possible recovery.

"There is too much at stake in the Delta to ignore potential effects of yet another dam on the Peace River," said MCFN Chief Steve Courtoreille. "Governments needed to take a cautious approach and ensure they understood effects to the Delta and on the Mikisew before they approved Site C. Unfortunately, they chose not to do so."

ACFN Chief Allan Adam shares these concerns. "When they built the Bennett Dam, no one thought about how the Delta might be affected. No one thought about how First Nations might be affected. Once the dam was built, it was too late to address our concerns. We are worried that history is repeating with Site C."

MCFN and ACFN are First Nations located within the lower reaches of the Peace River and within the Delta. . They are signatories to Treaty 8. For centuries, they have depended on the rich and diverse Delta ecosystem to sustain themselves and their cultures. Over the last 40 years, their ability to depend on the Delta has become increasingly threatened as a result of development.

Contact Information

  • Media contacts:
    Chief Steve Courtoreille, MCFN - 780.838.0893
    Melody Lepine, MCFN - 780.792.8736
    Eriel Deranger, ACFN - 780.903.6598