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BC Hydro, Alberta First Nation reach Site C deal

Dene Tha' will get a lump sum payment and contracting opportunities
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The Peace River. BC Hydro and a Northwest Alberta First Nation have reached a deal on the construction of the Site C dam, which will flood around 83 kilometres of river valley.

BC Hydro and a First Nation in Northwest Alberta have reached an agreement on the Site C dam.

The Dene Tha' First Nation, a 2,400 member nation with three settlements near the Peace River in Alberta, will receive a one-time payment from BC Hydro and "ongoing information" on contracts and employment on the $8.8 billion mega dam.

In a release, Dene Tha' Chief Joe Pastion called the agreement "a milestone in the relationship between BC Hydro and Dene Tha'."

"We are striving to strengthen our relations with industry and First Nations in our Traditional Territory," Pastion said. "Dene Tha's Treaty rights will continue to be practised by our current members and future generations."

Earlier this month, BC Hydro announced it had reached a similar deal with the McLeod Lake Indian Band, located north of Prince George. While the financial details of that agreement were not  disclosed, the Vancouver Sun reported the band was offered annual payments of $250,000 for 70 years and a $2 million lump sum payment. That deal also included a lands management agreement and transfer of Crown parcels. 

McLeod Lake was previously involved with the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations lawsuit against the project.  Last year, two other Alberta First Nations, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and Mikisew Cree First Nation dropped a judicial review of the dam.

During Joint Review Panel hearings in early 2014, Dene Tha' members said Site C would have major impacts on treaty rights to hunt, fish and engage in traditional land use.  

The Dene Tha' are members of Treaty 8, but are not part of the Treaty 8 Tribal Association, which represents the treaty's B.C. adherents.  

Site C will flood around 83-kilometres of the Peace River Valley and generate 1,100 megawatts of electricity.

—this is a developing story that will be updated as information becomes available.