Amnesty International Canada says the federal and B.C. governments are discriminating against Indigenous peoples when building energy projects, calling it an act of “environmental racism.”
The Canadian arm of the international human rights organization says incidents such as the Mount Polley mining dam failure and the looming Site C hydroelectric project threaten the rivers and lakes that Indigenous groups depend on for their livelihood.
“Far too often, governments in Canada have demonstrated that they place little value on the health and well-being of Indigenous peoples and the revitalization of their cultures and traditions,” said campaigner Tara Scurr on Thursday, as part of the group’s latest campaign for World Water Day on Friday.
She pointed to the lengthy court cases against the Mount Polley Mining Corporation after its tailings pond leaked wastewater into Quesnel Lake in August 2014. Crown counsel has until Aug. 4 to lay charges under the Fisheries Act.
Former Xat’sull First Nation chief Bec Sellars had filed private charges against the mining company, but a provincial court judge stayed those in January.
“We have already lost access to our land, traditional foods and medicines,” Sellars said. “We can’t afford to sit back and watch more toxic waste being dumped into our sacred waterways.”
As for the Site C dam, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination issued a letter to the B.C. and federal governments in December, giving them until April to prove that steps are being taken to suspend construction.