Civil Claim filed against campers

By on January 26, 2016
Defendant Ken Boon speaks to David Suzuki weeks before the claim was filed. Photo: Julia Lovett

Defendant Ken Boon speaks to David Suzuki weeks before the claim was filed.
Photo: Julia Lovett

FORT ST. JOHN – On Tuesday, Jan. 19, BC Hydro submitted a civil claim to the Supreme Court of British Columbia, seeking an injunction against the campers at the Rocky Mountain Fort camp.

“I think there’s still like a sense of shock, like it just seems like a really heavy handed move,” said Helen Knott, Treaty 8 member and one of the defendants named in the claim.

According to the 13 page document, the utility is seeking the injunction for “relief and damages for nuisance, including break of contract, interference with economic relations by unlawful means, intimation and conspiracy.”

“The encampment is holding up the clearing activities on the south bank, just upstream of the confluence of the Peace and the Moberly River,” said Dave Conway, community relations manager.

He explained that the utility decided to move forward with the claim due to their commitment to the rate payers to keep the project on schedule and on budget.

For Knott, however, the claim only strengthens her resolve and she feels as though this is another intimidation tactic.

“Ultimately, our top priority is for the safety of the Site C workers and the protestors,” said Conway.

According to the claim, which was filed in Vancouver, states that on December. 31, the defendants placed a survival shack on the heritage site known as Rocky Mountain Fort and had done so without the authorization of the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. 

“We’re everyday people, like all of us are law abiding citizens – community members, volunteers,” she said.

Knott explained that campers have maintained a peaceful presence at the camp and will continue to do so despite the civil claim.   

In the document, under section 38E, states that on January, 2, Verena Hofmann and Yvonne Tupper, both Treaty 8 members, blocked off heavy machinery that is either owned or leased by the utility. The rope they used to block off the machines was attached to signs that read, “No Trespassing, Treaty 8 Territory” and “No cutting permitted, Treaty 8 Territory.” After which, they told the workers that if they crossed the line, they would be trespassing.

“I fully believe that I as a Treaty 8 member, have a right to access those lands as well,” she said.

Conway explained that that all other construction on the site is moving full steam ahead, the claim is for the particular location of the historic fort.

“The other thing that we’d like to remind people is that BC Hydro has all the environmental approvals, the provincial permits and federal authorizations in place for the work that’s currently underway and that we’re looking to undertake,” he said.

Knott maintains, however, that what she and other others are doing is not illegal and will not be deterred. Conway maintained that the claim is specifically to remove certain individuals including Esther Pedersen who also goes by Rachel Blatt and Ken and Arlene Boon.

The aforementioned campers did receive packages at the camp and are in the process of being served.

Conway went on to add that the utility is having positive discussions with First Nations and said that they are reaching terms for agreements with a number of them.

“We’re also pleased to see aboriginal contractors and aboriginal employees involved in the construction of the project.”   

Julia Lovett

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