Update: The Peak contacted BC Hydro via phone, who said they would call back by 4 p.m. Friday in response to Henry’s claims like the project is harmful to the environment.
They emailed out a statement which said “We know that there are some individuals that have their own perspectives on Site C. We respect their right to express those opinions when they do so in a safe and lawful manner,” which is a similar statement given to other media sources like rabble.ca.
SFU alum Kristin Henry has set up camp in front of BC Hydro’s headquarters in downtown Vancouver, refusing to eat until the construction of the BC Hydro’s Site C dam project is halted.
According to BC Hydro’s website, this will be the third dam and hydroelectric generating station that will be built along the Peace River area in Northern BC. The Site C Clean Energy Project and will have a 83 kilometer reservoir that will be twice to three times the length of the river. The project received approval from the provincial government to begin construction in December 2014.
Henry believes that the project is unnecessary, and will cause serious damage to the environment. She was interviewed by The Peak on the third day of her hunger strike, and paused, saying she had to gather her energy and collect her thoughts before answering our questions.
“We don’t need the energy that this project [will generate]. What we do need is everything this project will destroy,” she said, listing natural wilderness, pristine habitats, biodiversity, and more than 5,000 hectares of agricultural land as being at stake if this dam’s construction were to proceed.
Henry is currently on her fifth day of the strike, and the camp around her has steadily been growing. Five women will be staying in the camp as of tonight, and more are expected to join this upcoming weekend. One of those women is SFU student Amy Widmer, who is no stranger to fighting for what she believes in.
Farmer Sage Birley is the only man who has yet been welcomed in the camp, and will join the hunger strike for three days. In a statement to The Peak, Birley said, “If someone I had previously never met is willing to go without food to protect the food security of the Peace Region, then it is time for me to do my part. It’s time to stand in solidarity to halt the Site C Dam so we can feed our communities and so we can all have food on our plates.”
Inspired by other activists she admired, Henry decided to go on a hunger strike because it was a drastic means of protest. The hunger strike is also symbolic to her in an another way. “We are moving into an era where food scarcity is going to be a reality, and that is not a future that I want to see happen,” she said.
Henry also stands in solidarity with the Treaty 8 Tribal Association (T8TA), an organization that provides advice and support to BC’s First Nations who are part of the Treaty 8 agreement. The Treaty was signed in 1899 by several Indigenous peoples residing in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the Northwest Territories, with BC later following suit. The Treaty, according to T8TA’s website, “promotes co-existence between peoples on the landbase and the sharing of the resources, both renewable and non-renewable.”
T8TA was forcibly removed from their protest at the Site C construction site. Henry also explained that the Site C project will be built on Indigenous land, and T8TA was not properly consulted on how this project should progress.
“[This project] is an actual infringement on Indigenous rights [. . .] It is choosing a future of industry over having fresh food and farming,” said Henry.
“They are branding this as a ‘green energy’ project, but for nine billion dollars there are so many [alternate green solutions]. We need to preserve the habitats and biodiversity that we have left.”
According to Henry, no representatives from BC Hydro have responded to Henry’s efforts thus far, but she is not giving up anytime soon. “I shouldn’t have to put my life on the line for this to the point where I could get really sick,” Henry stated. “This is on the government and BC Hydro — they have the power to fix this. If they don’t, then my life is on them.”
The Peak has contacted BC Hydro, but has not yet received a response. As stated on rabble.ca, “Previously the company noted it respects the right of all individuals to express their opinions about Site C when they do so in a safe and lawful manner.”