Posted by: peacevalley | July 16, 2006

Paddle for the Peace turnout in the hundreds

NEWS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
July 16, 2006

FORT ST. JOHN – With nearly 400 Paddle for the Peace participants and spectators from BC, Alberta and as far away as Germany and Switzerland, Roland Willson, Chief of West Moberly First Nations, thinks the provincial government will get the message about what people think about plans to build the Site C dam on the Peace River.

“The turnout was excellent. I think it sends a pretty strong message out to the province that we don’t want Site C,” said Willson. “We had a good showing of all kinds of people.”

West Moberly First Nations (WMFN) and the Peace Valley Environment Association (PVEA) co-sponsored the Paddle for the Peace event on July 15, 2006, an aboriginal and non-aboriginal collaboration designed to raise awareness and unite opposition against proposed plans for the mega-project hydroelectric dam.

Over 100 canoes, kayaks, rowboats and one sail boat, made their way from Hudson’s Hope down 40 km of the Peace River to the cultural village set up by WMFN at the Halfway River, a major Peace River tributary that would be back-flooded 28 km by the Site C dam.

This was the first time down the Peace River for many participants and many were better able to understand the impact a dam would have on the ecosystems, agricultural lands and historical sites of the area, said organizer Danielle Yeoman.

“A lot of people got a better appreciation of what we’re going to lose,” she said. “People were thinking about alternative energies that could supply our electricity needs.”

Both PVEA and WMFN contend that BC’s energy needs can be met through innovative green technologies and energy conservation. As well they take the position that electricity generation sites should be located closer to the communities with the higher demand. Already one-third of BC’s electricity needs are generated in the Northeast at the W.A.C. Bennett and Peace Canyon dams, with almost 15 per cent of the electricity lost during transmission to the Lower Mainland and the rest of BC.

The day’s events were opened with a prayer and blessing by Max Desjarlais, WMFN Elder, and a brief speech by Peace River resident, Ross Peck.

Desjarlais emphasized the need for native and non-native people to unite in their opposition to the Site C dam.

“Let’s all work together,” said Desjarlais. “We need to be thankful for what we have now. I ask God to help us not block this water.

“They’ve already done too much damage to this area.”

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For information about opposition to construction of the Site C dam contact:
PVEA: Brian Churchill by phone: (250) 787-5518, or cell: (250) 261-0555
WMFN: Chief Roland Willson: (250) 788-3663
Paddle for the Peace: Danielle Yeoman: (250) 788-8510

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