Blueberry River First Nations unhappy with industrial development

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – 84% of the traditional territory of the Blueberry River First Nations is being negatively impacted by industrial work, according to a new report.

In a news conference in Vancouver, the Blueberry First Nations expressed concerns after the major report was released.

The review that was released today found that “the Province of B.C. has not only continued to authorize industrial development in the BRFN traditional territory, but has done so at an accelerated scale and rate, despite its knowledge of the worsening cumulative effects on BRFN traditional territory.”

“Elders and land users give me daily reports of continuing damage to our lands and water. Development has extinguished our traditional way of life on wide areas of our land.” said Chief Yahey.

The 2016 Disturbance Atlas, which was commissioned by BRFN and the David Suzuki Foundation, and authored by Ecotrust Canada, comes after findings of the 2012 Atlas which found numerous impacts.

The major findings in 2016 were as follows:

  • Nearly 75% of the area inside BRFN traditional territory is within 250 metres of an industrial disturbance, and over 80 per cent is within 500 metres.

  • Active petroleum and natural gas tenures cover nearly 70 per cent of BRFN traditional territory.

  • With over 100,000 kilometres of linear features in BRFN territory, linear density has reached levels vastly exceeding known thresholds for wildlife habitat.

  • Of the total area of B.C. reserved for pipelines via tenures, 46 per cent (13,000 kilometres) falls within BRFN traditional territory.

  • Nearly 200,000 hectares of BRFN’s traditional territory has been logged since 1950.

  • While 60% of B.C. is considered intact forest landscape, BRFN traditional territory has little intact forest landscape remaining — less than 14%.

Since the 2012 report was released, the government of BC has authorized construction of more than 2,600 oil and gas wells, 1,884 km of petroleum access and permanent roads, 740 km of petroleum development roads, 1,500 km of new pipelines and 9,400 km of seismic lines in BRFN traditional territory.

Chief Yahey says that these incidents are pushing the culture to the brink of extinction.

“Despite raising these concerns directly with the premier and with provincial ministers, there has been no meaningful response to this critical threat. Instead, the province continues to approve major industrial undertakings in our territory, including major fracking operations and the Site C Dam, willfully ignoring that each new approval brings our unique culture closer to extinction.”

The BRFN has used their own resources to create a Land Stewardship Framework which is a response to the damaged condition of the territory. The BRFN feels that they needed to take this step since the government has not taken the situation seriously.

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