‘Pumping Gas Interfering With Picking Berries’

It’s not easy balancing a hunter/gatherer lifestyle and high-speed Internet:

“The ability of (our) children to hunt, eat moose, harvest berries and medicinal plants and learn their language while on the land hangs in the balance.”

‘Blueberry River ‘First Nation’ {B.C.} wants industrial development “suspended in our critical areas”. 

“The Blueberry River ‘First Nation’ {a ‘nation’ of 472 people…} has issued a lawsuit that their lawyers say

“puts into question future development in the northeast”. 

“And for its chief, Marvin Yahey, the matter is “black and white”.

“We have a treaty right that’s been breached”, he said. “The province isn’t doing their job, end of story. It’s simple.”

“In March, 2015, the ‘First Nation’ issued a notice of civil claim against the ‘cumulative impacts of industrial development’ in their ‘traditional territory’, which includes the areas around Fort St. John and Dawson Creek. {They have also promised to return ALL implements from the Modern Age – everything from vehicles to refrigerators to computers to guns to cell phones to clothing that’s not handmade from local materials. Oh, wait… turns out that was just a rumour…}

“They argue that cumulative impacts from extensive industrial development violate ‘Treaty 8’ {which has a specific provision against the “cumulative impacts from extensive industrial development”? Nope…}, which Blueberry River signed in 1900.

“That document is important to the relationship between Blueberry River and the province. {Yes, because it clearly shows that they are wrong!}

“We have assurance from the province and government that we would be allowed to practice our treaty rights and live life as if we had never signed onto treaty”, said Yahey.

{There was no guarantee of protection from social evolution, and your people have gladly availed themselves of the tools of our time – from snowmobiles to hunting rifles to power saws to flatscreen TVs and satellite receivers to electric fridges and stoves to indoor plumbing and hot water and on and on and on…}

“One of these rights is the ability to hunt and fish, along with other traditional activities. Yahey said that members of his ‘First Nation’

“continue to live our way of life, hunting, fishing and trapping.” {All 472 of them???}

Photograph from 2016 Atlas of Cumulative Land Disturbance
Photograph from 2016 Atlas of Cumulative Land Disturbance

“Industrial development, particularly in the oil and gas industry in northeastern B.C., has increased sharply over the past few decades.

The notice of civil claim singles out government-approved oil and gas, forestry, hydroelectric infrastructure, transportation and agricultural land clearing

“John Rich, Blueberry River’s legal counsel, said the lawsuit isn’t meant to stop resource development in all of Northeastern B.C.

“The court, in a practical sense, is not going to do that anyway. What it can be expected to do, and we hope the courts will cooperate this way, and that is, there has to be better planning for resource development.”

This better planning would

“include conservation of values, the natural environment, and the values of Blueberry River ‘First Nation’ {a ‘nation’ of 472 people…}, and that will mean some projects cannot go ahead and some areas will have to be protected”, he added…

“The Blueberry River ‘First Nation’ terminated two key agreements with the province in 2013…

The agreement, first signed in 2006, said that BR‘FN’ recognized that the province fulfilled its ‘duties to consult’ and avoid any infringement of that band’s Treaty Rights. In return, the province agreed to create a trust for the membership of BR‘FN’ and pay money into that trust.

“Also in 2013, BR‘FN’ withdrew from the ‘Long Term Oil and Gas Agreement’ (LTOGA), signed in 2008, which provided a means for the province to work with Treaty 8 bands. A letter BR‘FN’ sent to the province said the LTOGA consultation process

“was inadequate and it did not have regard for the cumulative effects of development in our {claimed, surrendered, former} ‘traditional territory’.”

Chief Marvin Yahey of the Blueberry River 'First Nation' (CBC)
Chief Marvin Yahey of the Blueberry River ‘First Nation’ (CBC)

“Yahey says oil and gas activities have had “devastating impacts” on Blueberry’s way of life and the ‘First Nation’ has received

“few economic benefits from the province. Under previous agreements, we received less than 0.1 per cent of provincial oil and gas royalties, even though the bulk of these revenues come from our {claimed, surrendered, former} territory.”

{You are not entitled to ANY share of resource royalties except those generated ON THE RESERVE, NOT on {claimed, surrendered, former} ‘traditional territory’. Read the Treaty…  As for “economic benefits”, you could start with the provision of electricity and roads and then say “Thank you” for once…}

“Yahey said the comparative amount of economic benefits his ‘First Nation’ receives are “miniscule compared to the enormous financial gains reaped by the province, non-Aboriginal businesses and especially the oil and gas proponents themselves,” {Those people work, build and EARN their share. You want a share simply for existing…} he wrote in a followup question after the interview.

“The issue is the wholly unplanned aggregate impact on our culture and way of life based on hundreds and hundreds of projects across all sectors, and the vast infrastructure {and employment, and benefit to the entire province, and tax revenue that pays for aboriginals and social services} that has accompanied those projects.”

“Documents released under the ‘First Nations’ Financial Transparency Act’ show that in their 2014 budget, the ‘First Nation’ received at least $1 million from

“oil companies and BC Hydro”.

“At least one Band-owned business has profited from industrial development. BlueberryRiverEnterprises“Blueberry River ‘First Nation’ owns ‘Blueberry River Enterprises’. On its website, the company writes that it

“develop(s) well sites, plant sites, roads, clean-ups, right-of-way and seismic clearing.”

“…’Treaty 8′ encompasses 840,000 hectares in parts of Alberta, B.C., Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories. B.C. signatories include ‘First Nations’ from Doig River, Prophet River, West Moberly, Saulteau, Fort Nelson, Halfway River and the McLeod Lake Indian Band…

“This is the first lawsuit of its kind for B.C., but not in Canada.

“In 2008, the Beaver Lake Cree ‘Nation’ {a ‘nation of 963 people} filed a lawsuit at the ‘Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta’ over the ‘cumulative impacts of development’ on their {claimed, surrendered former} ‘traditional territory’. In 2012, a judge rejected provincial and federal efforts to have the case dismissed. That decision was upheld by the Alberta Court of Appeal in 2013.

“As of the first week of March 2015 {EIGHT YEARS LATER!}, no trial date had been set, according to Alberta ‘Aboriginal Relations’ spokesperson Jessica Johnson.
{When you have institutional Segregation, you have to hire ‘Aboriginal Relations’ spokespersons…}

“Nigel Bankes, professor of natural resources law at the University of Calgary, said the Blueberry River case will likely take years to wind through the courts.

“…It’s going to cost a lot of the money, both in terms of lawyers’ fees and ‘experts’.”

{And the Aboriginal Industry gravy train roles on…and on…and on…}

— ‘In Northeastern B.C., one lawsuit that could change everything’,
William Stodalka, Alaska Highway News, March 11, 2015


–‘Blueberry River’ First Nation’s lawsuit threatens Site C, fracking in B.C.’,
CBC News, Mar 04, 2015
Main IMAGE: Model for ‘Blueberry River Civic Centre’
Iredale Group Architecture, Summit AEC Architect
http://summitaec.com/iredale/ Blueberry River Civic Centre (Iredale)

Here’s one of the unfortunate {taxpayer-funded} legacies of development that this community has had to endure:

“‘Pathways to Technology’ is already making strides across British Columbia. One of the program’s success stories is Blueberry River, where the installation of high-speed Internet is changing the way the community does business, education and even entertainment.

“Blueberry River is a small ‘First Nations’ community of just over 400 people, located 45 minutes north of Fort St. John… The ‘Pathways’ project ensured that multiple access points were installed throughout the community including the Administration office, and set up wireless Internet receivers at no cost for any homes wishing to take advantage of high-speed Internet.

“That takes the cost of having the Internet at home from a $400 investment down to a small monthly fee, like any other Internet user in BC”, said Greg Hazel, Project Manager of ‘Pathways to Technology’. “It makes the Internet a more affordable option for people in Blueberry River.”

The new Internet services are already allowing people in the community to access resources never before available in their remote location. From online banking to video communication, the opportunities are almost endless with high-speed Internet access…”

–‘Community Spotlight: Blueberry River’
“The ‘Pathways to Technology’ initiative, a $48.8 million information and communications technology infrastructure project managed by ‘All Nations Trust Company’, with funding from the Province of BC and the Government of Canada…”

blueberry-river3“Blueberry River ‘First Nations’ (BR‘FN’) {a ‘nation’ of 472 people…} officials say the B.C. government is not doing enough to slow industrial impacts on its land, the effects of which it says are wreaking havoc on ‘treaty rights’.

“In a study released June 28, the ‘nation’ says the province has continued to greenlight development on its {claimed, surrendered former} ‘territory’ at

“an accelerated scale and rate, despite its knowledge of the worsening cumulative effects.”

“BR‘FN’s reserve is located north of Fort St. John, but its {claimed, surrendered former} ‘traditional territory’ stretches from south of Dawson Creek, west beyond the Pink Mountain area and north past Sikanni Chief, ending just south of the Klua Lakes protected area.

“The ‘2016 Disturbance Atlas’ follows on the heels of a similar 2012 study. Work on the Atlas was carried out in cooperation with the {anti-development} ‘David Suzuki Foundation’ and ‘Ecotrust Canada’.

“The ‘Atlas’ shows 84% of the ‘First Nations’ {claimed, surrendered former} ‘traditional land’ has been impacted in some way by logging, oil and gas or hydroelectric projects, including the ‘Site C’ dam.
{Since aboriginal Bands now claim well over 100% of B.C. as so-called ‘traditional territory’, ANY development can be said to ‘impact’ aboriginals…}

“Since 2012, the government has given the go-ahead to more than 2,600 oil and gas wells, 2,624 km of access and development roads, 1,500 km of new pipelines and 9,400 km of seismic lines in BR‘FN’s {claimed, surrendered former} ‘traditional territory’. BlueberryRiver'TraditionalTerritory'(600x450)

“The findings of the 2016 report clearly show that even though the provincial government has clear notice of the scale of harm… it has worked to make the problem worse, not better”,

Chief Marvin Yahey said in a news conference.

“Fracking, forestry, roads and other development is pushing us further and further to the edges of our {claimed, surrendered former} territory and we are no longer able to practice our ‘treaty rights’ in the places we’ve always known.” 

“Concerns regarding cumulative impacts were the basis of a 2015 lawsuit over the breach of the guarantees to traditional land use contained in ‘Treaty 8’.

{But the Treaty very clearly stipulates that the land can and will be used for development, and aboriginals can trap, hunt, etc., on those lands UNTIL then:

“And Her Majesty the Queen HEREBY AGREES with the said Indians that they shall have right to pursue their usual vocations of hunting, trapping and fishing throughout the tract surrendered as heretofore described, subject to such regulations as may from time to time be made by the Government of the country, acting under the authority of Her Majesty, and saving and excepting such tracts as may be required or taken up from time to time for settlement, mining, lumbering, trading or other purposes.

“Industrial development, particularly in the oil and gas industry, has increased sharply over the past few decades…

“BR‘FN’ also said requests have been made directly to Premier Christy Clark for a cumulative impacts study of its territory, but

“B.C. has not responded”.

“As a result, the ‘nation’ {a ‘nation’ of 472 people…} began its own study of the cumulative impacts, called the ‘Land Stewardship Framework’. BR‘FN’ said it will offer a “science-based solution” to the issues it outlines, and a pathway to sustainable development in the area.

“(We) want to ensure that generations to come are able to meaningfully exercise their ‘treaty rights to live off the land’ {?}, a BR‘FN’ release said. “The ability of (our) children to hunt, eat moose, harvest berries and medicinal plants and learn their language while on the land hangs in the balance.”

— ‘B.C. not doing enough to uphold treaty rights: Blueberry River ‘FN’,
Mike Carter, Dawson Creek Mirror, June 28, 2016


Blueberry (600)
‘PGRT Signs Project Agreement With Blueberry River ‘First Nations’

“‘TransCanada’ informed that its ‘Prince Rupert Gas Transmission’ project has signed a project agreement with the Blueberry River ‘First Nations’ {a ‘nation’ of 472 people…}.

“The agreement outlines financial and other benefits and commitments that will be provided for as long as the project is in service, including access to employment and contracts and initial and annual payments for the life of the project…

“Along the pipeline route, PRGT has also signed project agreements with Doig River, Halfway River and Yekooche ‘First Nations’, Gitanyow ‘First Nation’, Kitselas ‘First Nation’, Lake Babine ‘Nation’, Metlakatla ‘First Nation’ and Nisga’a Lisims Government.

“‘Prince Rupert Gas Transmission’ is proposing to construct and operate a 900-kilometre natural gas pipeline to deliver natural gas from a point near Hudson’s Hope to the proposed Pacific NorthWest LNG facility at Lelu Island, off the coast of Port Edward, near Prince Rupert.”

–‘PGRT Signs Project Agreement With Blueberry River ‘First Nations’,
November 2, 2015


See also:
‘Aboriginal Support For Gas Pipelines’ {April 16, 2016}:

‘Aboriginal Bands Can Sue Over ALL Land Use In B.C.’ {April 19, 2015}:
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