BC Hydro deserves to be applauded for their recent efforts to resolve longstanding First Nations grievances. Many of the province’s mega dams and transmission lines were put in place decades ago without any compensation to impacted First Nations. In many cases, traditional lands were flooded and lost forever.
Adding insult to injury, many First Nations communities in British Columbia continue to rely on diesel generators for their electricity even though power transmission lines often run overhead through their communities. Prime examples are the three First Nations communities near Harrison Lake which were only recently connected to the BC Hydro power grid.
Things are gradually changing for the better for British Columbia’s First Nations and a new relationship is being forged. And energy development (past, present and future) is clearly at the center of this new relationship. New energy projects are providing job opportunities and training for First Nations as well as partnership opportunities which will allow British Columbia’s First Nations to share directly in the long term benefits.
BC Hydro’s efforts to reverse past wrongs deserve to be recognized and hopefully the settlement they have reached with the St’at’imc First Nation is the start of good things to come and a sign of a more respectful, fair and balanced relationship.
Yolanda Lora Vilchis