Monday, May 11, 2015

BC Hydro's WAC Bennett Dam flooded Tutu and Parsnip Bands territories: compensation: $36,950 for lost traplines

Making a deal with the Devil, once was enough:

BC Hydro
BC Government
WAC Bennett Dam
Williston Reservoir

No need for Site C on the Peace. 

BC Hydro Heritage Funds have paid billion of dollars to the BC Liberals to balance their books, and what were the people paid for the loss of their land forever?

Christy Clark wants to do it again with Site C
Summary of Compensation Payments made for Traplines and Improvements Thereon Related to Flooding of the Finlay and Parsnip River Valleys by B.C. Hydro

In 1968, B.C. Hydro built the Bennett Dam, west of Hudson Hope on the Peace River.  The impact of the dam was the flooding of the Finlay-Parsnip River area and the formation of Williston Lake, which is 1070 sq. km. in size and has a shoreline of 1770 km.  Large quantities of timber stands were flooded along with the Sekani reserve at Fort Grahame, known as Finlay Forks I.R. No. 1, as well as a nearby sawmill which employed 33 Indians.  About forty Indians lived permanently in Fort Grahame, while most lived in trapping cabins along the Finlay River.

In exchange for the flooded Finlay Forks reserve, two reserves, Tutu Creek and Parsnip were set aside in 1969 for the Finlay Forks Bank.  They are located fairly close to the new town of Mackenzie. 

Unfortunately the Indians were not happy with these reserves; Tutu Creek was never inhabited, and, while four families did move to Parsnip, it was abandoned a few years later.  Most of the members of this Band have squatted on Crown Lands at Ingenika because they much prefer the more isolated location.  The remaining members of this Band have settled at Ware and McLeod Lakes. 

Because of the flooding the composition and quantity of wildlife in the area has been greatly affected by the creation of the Lake according to the Department of Environment.  This has, in turn, impacted on the guiding and trapping area of the Indians.  The people of Ingenika and McLeod Lake now have to travel much further than in the past to reach the animals, and then find a reduced quantity.  Access to what is left of the traplines is very difficult.


Although the Sekani were known to be within the boundaries of Treaty 8, no agreement was ever signed by representatives of the Ingenika Band.   The Sekani and the Carrier up to the present)have never signed a Treaty of Agreement concerning their traditional lands. 

Both Commissioner O'Reilly and the 1916 Royal Commission allotted a number of Reserves to these Bands.  

The Royal Commission reported that the majority of the Carrier and Sekani were progressive, intelligent and were fairly well off, except that the decline in the fur prices were greatly affecting their way of living.  The Indians of this region were employed in fishing, hunting, trapping, stock-raising, gardening, picking and working for wages.


Trappers go out in October, after freeze-up and first snow, for beaver and muskrat and by November, all furs are legally open for harvesting.  The traplines are worked until March, when winter fur season closes, with the exception of two months (March-April) period for muskrat and beaver.   From May to mid-June is bear season, both grizzly and black.   Mid-June to September is the Summer slack, a time for community lief, with occasional opportunities for logging and construction jobs.   September is a month traditionally spent getting ready for Winter fur season.  Equipment must be cleaned and oiled, cabins built or refurbished, dried food stocks laid in and ski-doo readied for haul to the trapping cabin.

Before the establishment of schools the entire family might go out on the trapline.  The Winter fur operation represented a major family relocation from the main settlement.  It should also be noted that the majority of Bands covered by the Carrier-Sekani claim still rely heavily on trapping, fishing and hunting for subsistence.


Graph Maker: 
Hugh Brody is the Canada Research Chair in Aboriginal Studies at the University of the Fraser Valley in British Columbia.

 Prior to 1960                                                                                           After 1960

The Treaty 8 Commissioners were handicapped at the beginning of their negotiations as the Indian Affairs Department could not provide them with reliable information as to the manners, customs and characteristics of the northern Indians.  Also, there was uncertainty concerning treaty boundaries and questions arose as to the number of B.C. natives who should  be involved in treaty negotiations.  It is difficult to ascertain those Sekani in the Treaty 8  area who could have adhered to treaty  because of the nomadic nature of the Sekanis and the confusion as to the nomenclature of bands or tribes (eg. at one time there was a Finlay River Band, but this has been supplanted by the Fort Ware and Ingenika Bands).  It is certain, however, that the following Sekani Bands did not adhere to Treaty No. 8: Fort Ware, Ingenika, Liard River, Bear Lake and Takla Lake.


Prior to 1960

"McLeod's Lake, Fort Grahame and Lake Connelly Bands of Sikanees number ninety-five, ninety-nine and one hundred and nineteen, respectively.  They are nomadic, live in wigwams, fish, hunt and trap in and about the localities named.  Their trapping grounds are very much depleted of fur-bearing animals."  -   Department of Indian Affairs, Annual Report 1895


1 comment:

scotty on denman said...

Awesome piece. What of the Sekani First Nation? As Hugh Brody outlined in "Maps And Dreams", this FN really got whammy-ed. Passed over by the Treaty 8 commissioners because they were away over the Rockies on their summer hunt, they were unable to return to either locale when the dam flooded. This nation without a territory wound up in legal limbo, the BC government insisting it wasn't responsible for these double-refugees.