British Columbia

Altas documents industrialization of Northern B.C. First Nations' territory

In a new atlas, the Blueberry River First Nations say 84 percent of their traditional territory is being impacted by oil and gas development, logging, pollution and other ills. They say it's time for their treaty rights to be respected.

Blueberry River First Nations say logging, oil and gas and pollution destroying traditional territory

The Blueberry River First Nations released these maps in 2015 which compare industrial activity today to 50 years ago. (Blueberry River First Nations)

A new report from the Blueberry River First Nations in northeastern B.C. says industrial activity is destroying their traditional territory.

The report,entitledAtlas of cumulative landscape disturbance in the traditional territory of Blueberry River First Nations, found 84 percent of the First Nations' traditional territory is within 500 metres of an "industrial disturbance" such as an oil or gas well, roadways, forestry cut blocks, agriculture or seismic lines.

"That confirms what our people have always known, have always spoke of: our way of life, our very existence, is being wiped out," Blueberry River Chief Marvin Yahey said on Tuesday.

The report highlighted concerns about the amount of logging that has been done in Blueberry River territory, the lack of habitat for wildlife and the effects of pollution on human health in the area.

'Scale of impacts is really difficult'

Report author Eliana Macdonald called the project "overwhelming."

"You just don't realize what's happening there," she told Radio West host Audrey McKinnon. "The scale of impacts is really difficult to understand."

"Being up there, you can even see it on Google Maps if you go up there and put on the earth view. It's like a little ant farm: roads and seismic lines everywhere."

Macdonald says the goal of the atlas is to consolidate information to help the Blueberry River First Nations fight for more say in what happens in their traditional territory in the Peace Region.

"They're asking for just some core areas to be protected and inclusion in the planning process and their treaty rights to be respected," Macdonald said.

The report was commissioned by the Blueberry River First Nations and the David Suzuki Foundation and authored by Ecotrust Canada.

With files from CBC Radio One's Radio West


To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: Blueberry River First Nations say way of life 'is being wiped out' by industry