Kenny Dam in the Nechako Watershed. (Rio Tinto website photo)

Northern B.C. First Nations wrap up testimony against Rio Tinto (Alcan), B.C. and Canada

Saik’uz and Stellat’en First Nations have taken Rio Tinto (Alcan), B.C. and Canada to court over the construction and operation of the Kenney Dam on the Nechako River.

Saik’uz and Stellat’en First Nations have concluded their testimony in a case against Rio Tinto (Alcan), British Columbia and Canada in the provincial Supreme Court.

The 200-day trial began in October last year. Before the trial Saik’uz First Nation Chief Priscilla Mueller had released a statement saying that the case was in regard to the “devastating impacts of the construction and operation of the Kenney Dam on the Nechako River, its fisheries and Saik’uz and Stellat’en’s constitutionally protected Aboriginal rights.”

READ MORE: Saik’uz and Stellat’en First Nations court battle against RioTinto Alcan to start next week

In an official statement from both First Nation communities on Tuesday, June 9, officials said that since Rio Tinto (Alcan) started operation in 1952, the project has had a detrimental impact particularly for the chinook salmon, sockeye salmon and Nechako white sturgeon.

“And for the people and communities who live close by and have always relied on the River and its fisheries,” officials said.

This ongoing legal battle against Rio Tinto (Alcan) was first launched in 2011.

As the testimony for the plaintiffs (Saik’uz and Stellat’en First Nations) in this case is over, now the court will be listening to the defendants, starting with Rio Tinto (Alcan).

The trial was delayed earlier this year due to COVID-19, and is now anticipated to be wrapped-up early next year after 200 court days, as per the statement issued by the First Nation communities.

Both Chief Priscilla Mueller of Saik’uz First Nation and Chief Archie Patrick of Stellat’en First Nation thanked everyone who came out to provide testimonies.

Mueller was also quoted saying, “Our court case will provide the opportunity for everyone to learn about this dark chapter in our history and the impacts on our constitutionally protected Aboriginal rights.”

Patrick said, “It’s heartening to know that we’re not alone in holding Rio Tinto (Alcan), BC and Canada to account for the devastation of the Nechako. It is still hard for many people to contemplate the effects of taking approximately 70% of the water that would otherwise flow into the Nechako River and diverting it through a 16 km tunnel bored through a mountain into an entirely different watershed.”

In a statement to the Omineca Express, Simon Letendre, director of media relations for Rio Tinto said,”Rio Tinto prefers to work in partnership with First Nations groups to build relationships that are mutually beneficial. Rio Tinto has, on a number of occasions, sought to find ways to resolve this issue without proceeding to court hearings.”

“Rio Tinto has always, and will continue to operate, with all of the required permits and approvals under applicable laws, including a 1987 tripartite agreement with the Canada and British Columbia governments that ensures protective flows for fish,” he said.


Aman Parhar
Editor, Vanderhoof Omineca Express

aman.parhar@ominecaexpress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

BC Supreme Court

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Four air ambulance flights out of Terrace delayed or cancelled

Pandemic precautions caused nighttime closure of service station providing weather data to pilots

Skeena Resources, Tahltan prez excited by purchase of Eskay Creek

Skeena gets full control of mine, Barrick gets 12 per cent of Skeena and a one per cent royalty

VIA Rail lays off 1,000 unionized workers across the country

Northern B.C. route Jasper to Prince George to Prince Rupert is not affected by VIA Rail layoffs

Overall house sales drop in the northwest

COVID-19 pandemic slowed market activity

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

Tree planters get help with COVID-19 protective measures

Ottawa funds extra transportation, sanitizing for crews

Trudeau apologizes for not recusing himself from WE decision

He says his and his family’s longtime involvement with the WE organization should have kept him out of the discussions

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Washington’s NFL team drops ‘Redskins’ name after 87 years

The franchise was given the name back in 1933, when it was still in Boston

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Most Read