Dam Nation

Trudeau Just Broke His Promise to Canada's First Nations
Caleb Behn, who is from West Moberly First Nation, one of the nations taking the federal government to court, says Trudeau has broken his promise.

Justin Trudeau’s government has quietly issued its first batch of permits for the Site C dam — allowing construction to move forward on the $8.8 billion BC Hydro project despite ongoing legal challenges by two First Nations.

The federal-provincial review panel’s report on Site C found the 1,100 megawatt dam will result in significant and irreversible adverse impacts on Treaty 8 First Nations.

Caleb Behn, who is from West Moberly First Nation, one of the nations taking the federal government to court, says Trudeau has broken his promise.

“It’s 19th century technology being permitted with 19th century thinking and I expected more from the Trudeau government,” he said. “These permits were our last best hope to resolve this.”

“These permits suggest very strongly that, at least these ministries, if not Trudeau’s entire cabinet, are unwilling to engage in reconciliation with indigenous peoples. I thought this country could be more.”

Charlie Angus, MP for Timmins-James Bay and NDP critic for Indigenous and Northern Affairs, echoed those sentiments.  

“I think this was a real test of the Trudeau government and they failed the test,” Angus said.

“The Liberals seem to be thinking that if they say the right things, it’s somehow the same as doing the right things.”

Trudeau has emphasized building a new relationship with indigenous peoples since taking office in October. He included the following paragraph in every ministerial mandate letter:

“No relationship is more important to me and to Canada than the one with Indigenous Peoples. It is time for a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.”

But with the issuing of the Site C permits, doubts have been cast on that promise.

“We hear from all the key ministers about the nation-to-nation relationship and then they rubber stamp and go ahead with all the big projects,” Angus said.  

For Behn, who was the subject of a documentary called Fractured Land last year, the sense of disappointment was palpable.

“What do they care about a backwater in northern B.C. that only has 40,000 voters?” he asked. “If you spent $9 billion on solar panels, geothermal … you wouldn’t have to run roughshod over indigenous rights.”

Continue Reading.


Went on a 5-day, 1400-mile road trip all over parts of Oregon and Northern California for the first time with my buddy Shaun. We slept in the car, woke up at sunrise to photograph, and stayed up until 3 in the morning to see the Milky Way. In the end, were exhausted and badly in need of a shower, but I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

Various state/national parks in Oregon and California. July 2016. (Instagram)

Important Fall Reading List, part 1

Since Predator Came: Notes From the Struggle for American Indian Liberation

by Ward Churchill

HALF PRICE! Since Predator came is from Ward Churchill, the famous Colorado Professor who was fired for his remarks about 9/11. In this book of essays, he addresses a wide range of topics relevant to Native American existence today. From the landing of Columbus up through the case of Leonard Peltier, on to current perceptions of the indigenous rights movement from both the right and the left. This is a hefty and informative book at ½ off the original price! Order here: http://pioneerspress.com/catalog/books/2409/

Anarchist Voices: An Oral History of Anarchism in America

Paul Avrich, a New York City professor of History, let’s the anarchists speak for themselves in this mighty tome. 180 interviewees, mostly anarchists, friends, associates, and relatives, talk about their motivations as individualists, collectivists, pacifists, and revolutionaries. There are firsthand recollections of Emma Goldman, Rudolf Rocker, Sacco and Vanzetti and other key anarchists, experiences in libertarian schools and colonies, and observations of the dangers of authoritarian communism, bureaucracy and entrenched institutions. Interviews include Roger Baldwin, founder of the American Civil Liberties Union, Daniel Guerin, Peter Kropotkin, and Dwight Macdonald. This book profiles a movement continuing to appeal with its calls for self-determination, direct grass-roots action and voluntary cooperation. Order here: http://pioneerspress.com/catalog/books/2551/

How Shall I Live My Life?: On Liberating The Earth From Civilization

by Derrick Jensen

A new collection of interviews edited by Derrick Jensen discussing the destruction left in the wake of dominant culture. He talks to ten people who have devoted their lives to countering it. We hear about Carolyn Raffensperger’s radical approach to public health, Thomas Berry’s perceptions of the sacred, from Kathleen Dean Moore that our bodies are made of mountains, rivers, and sunlight, Vine Deloria asserts that our dreams tell us more about the world than science can, and many other activists and philosophers are interviewed; each bravely present a few of the endless forms that resistance can and must take. Order here: http://pioneerspress.com/catalog/books/2695/

Dam Nation: Dispatches from the Water Underground

Dam Nation combines environmental victories in the sustainable-use movement with hands-on, participatory options for country and city dwellers. Not just a “how to” but a “why to,” the book begins with the story of dams in the American West—a story in which millions of acres of perfect farmland were flooded in order to irrigate the marginal land that, due to the same natural process that destroyed several ancient Native American civilizations, would turn the area into the Dust Bowl. Cleo Woelfle-Erskine and Laura Allen, both restoration activists and educators, demand a different approach for American watersheds and taxpayers. Through their own experiments with alternative water systems and thousands of hours of interviews with innovators from around the world, they create a comprehensive plan for re-using household water, constructing miniature wetlands, and improving our communities’ physical and political healths. Order here: http://pioneerspress.com/catalog/books/2758/


Dam Nation

Appalling decision signals Ottawa supports B.C.’s plans to electrify LNG industry


July 29, 2016

The federal government’s approval of construction permits for the $9 billion Site C megaproject is a cowardly betrayal, says Sierra Club BC.

“The federal government’s decision is an affront to First Nations and to the scientific work that proves Site C is the most destructive project ever reviewed in Canadian history,” said Sierra Club BC’s Peace Valley campaigner Ana Simeon. “Prime Minister Trudeau has said honouring First Nations rights is a ‘sacred obligation’ not an inconvenience. But this decision is a profanity that clearly views those rights as nothing more than an inconvenience to be swept aside.

“The same goes for science: yesterday’s decision continues the previous government’s appalling practice of suppressing and ignoring inconvenient findings. This is a cowardly decision and a betrayal of the principles the federal government has claimed it wants to restore to Ottawa: respect for First Nations rights and science-based decision making.”

The B.C. government will shortly reveal its climate plan, which is expected to announce plans to electrify any LNG plants that are built. This will make Site C a climate disaster, enabling the export of massive emissions to Asia.

“We all share the same atmosphere and whether LNG is burned here or overseas it will have the same catastrophic effects on our climate,” said Simeon. “Ottawa will soon announce its decision whether or not to approve the Petronas plant in Prince Rupert. It’s another watershed moment for Trudeau. In combination, greenlighting Site C and Petronas would be a crime against our climate and against Canada’s second largest salmon run.

“This is not the end of the fight. Sierra Club BC will pursue all possible peaceful, legal avenues to stop Site C and with our allies and common sense British Columbians we will prevail against this abomination.”

Site C: Feds quietly issue permits for project, ignoring First Nations treaty rights
Vast numbers of experts, First Nations and environmental groups want the Trudeau administration to reverse the ideological pronouncement of the previous Cabinet, which claimed economic importance outweighed environmental damage.

The Green Party of Canada released the following statement after learning that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Transport Canada have issued federal permits to allow construction of the Site C dam hydroelectric project to commence:

“I am deeply disappointed that fed‎eral Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, the Hon. Dominic LeBlanc, and Transport Minister, the Hon. Marc Garneau, have issued permits to allow BC Hydro to destroy more of the Peace River. I really believed this new government would honour its word to First Nations,” said Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands).

“Now, the Peace River and surrounding pristine land is slated to be destroyed by the Site C dam, a hydroelectric project that will generate power far in excess of the province’s needs at an obscene price tag of $8.8 billion. This project is in clear violation of treaty rights for Treaty 8 First Nations. Site C is an avoidable environmental mess and a failure on the part of this government to shift away from destructive energy projects and towards cleantech, sustainable energy solutions.

"With the issue of Treaty 8 rights to be heard before the Federal Court in September, the permits issued today could be moot very soon. It is agonizing to witness the starting gun for a race between bulldozers and justice,” Ms. May said.

As background, Site C’s joint federal-provincial environmental review, under the pre-2012 Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, was chaired by highly respected former federal deputy minister Harry Swain. The panel found that the project would create economic problems for B.C., that there was no demand for the energy and that BC Hydro had failed in its mandated direction to explore alternative sources of energy.

The panel established as fact that the project would cause permanent environmental damage that cannot be mitigated and that Site C would cause permanent loss of treaty rights to Treaty 8 First Nations.

The Royal Society of Canada, our premier scientific academy, has described the Site C Joint Review Panel report as the strongest and most negative review to be ignored by government. Vast numbers of experts, First Nations and environmental groups want the Trudeau administration to reverse the ideological pronouncement of the previous Cabinet, which claimed economic importance outweighed environmental damage.