Amnesty International Forum focuses on resource development and Indigenous women

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Amnesty International paid a visit to Fort St. John on Friday evening to discuss the latest report they have released.

The report is titled: Out of Sight, Out of Mind. It focuses on gender, Indigenous rights and energy development in Northeastern B.C.

The 78 page report highlighted many issues and also provided recommendations moving forward to many different parties.

But on Friday night at the North Peace Cultural Centre, it was narrowed down to a few key issues.

Amnesty International says they tried to tell the story the best way possible which was the way it was told to them. They also noted they are not anti resource development.

“We are not anti resource development at all and we are not against resource sector workers.”

The project started 2 years ago in Ottawa when Connie Greyeyes and others from Fort St. John and the region. They had gone to Ottawa for the national vigil honouring those murdered and missing Indigenous women.

Amnesty International didn’t know much about Northeast B.C. at the time. They did know that the population was small enough, that there was something going on since there was such a long list of names of murdered and missing Indigenous women in Northeast B.C.

“Our research has shown that the rampant, unchecked, resource development in Northeastern B.C. has really strained the social fabric of communities and put the lives of Indigenous women and girls are great risk.”

They noted how people that work in the resource sector are prone to be tired and exhausted from the work they do. That can lead to stress release through alcohol, drugs and other methods which in turn can lead to violence against women.

“We’re not saying all resource sector workers commit violent crime. We all know that is simply not the case.

We are saying that when you have young men who statistically a demographic that is associated with higher levels of violent crime. There are many young men coming to the Northeast for work, it is reasonable to see that you are going to have some higher rates of violent crime.”

Amnesty says they were shocked at the gender income gap. The research showed that women are bringing about half home of what men bring home. That according to Amnesty, is putting women in a position of economic insecurity, which is a risk factor for experiencing violence.

The violence and how it was normalized was shocking for Amnesty. They say that it was different from other communities that they worked in.

Many people will think of the Site C project. BC Hydro did respond this morning to the report and said they would have been happy to share the proactive measures they are taking.

“Amnesty International has raised a number of important issues with respect to the resource economy, community services and broad determinants of health and wellness for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities. At BC Hydro, we care about these issues as well, and have developed extensive mitigation measures through consultation with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities, as part of careful project planning, and are also engaged in ongoing monitoring during construction and operations. Additional measures specific to each Aboriginal community are part of existing agreements and ongoing discussions.

Amnesty International’s report does not consider our specific project plans or proactive measures taken by BC Hydro to address socio-economic and community concerns related to the Site C project. Had they asked us, we would have been pleased to discuss our project and our approach to addressing community concerns. We welcome Amnesty International to contact us at any time.”

You can view BC Hydro’s backgrounder here. To view the information sheet on regional and community benefits, click here. For BC Hydro’s full statement on the Amnesty International report, click here.

There were 30 recommendations at the end of the report. You can view those in the report directly.

The night saw many different responses from audience members as well as the group on the stage. The speakers included Connie Greyeyes, Judy Maas, Byron Stewart from the City, a RCMP representative among others.

Comments

Have something you'd like to add? Read our comment policy by clicking here.