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Nature Environmental Conservation & Protection

Breaching the Peace

The Site C Dam and a Valley’s Stand against Big Hydro

by (author) Sarah Cox

foreword by Alex Neve

UBC Press
Initial publish date
May 2018
Environmental Conservation & Protection, Corruption & Misconduct, Natural Resources
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2018
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2018
    List Price

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Breaching the Peace tells the story of the ordinary citizens who are standing up to the most expensive megaproject in BC history and the government-sanctioned bullying that has propelled it forward. Starting in 2013, journalist Sarah Cox travelled to the Peace River Valley to talk to locals about the Site C dam and BC Hydro’s claim that the clean energy project was urgently needed. She found farmers, First Nations, and scientists caught up in a modern-day David-and-Goliath battle to save the valley, their farms, and traditional lands from wholesale destruction. Told in frank and moving prose, their stories stand as a much-needed cautionary tale at a time when concerns about global warming have helped justify a renaissance of environmentally irresponsible hydro megaprojects around the world.

About the authors


  • Winner, Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize, BC Book Prizes
  • Short-listed, Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing, Writers' Trust of Canada

Contributor Notes

Sarah Cox is an award-winning journalist who specializes in energy and environmental issues. Her work has appeared in numerous magazines, online publications, and provincial and national newspapers. Breaching the Peace is her first book. She lives in Victoria, British Columbia.

Editorial Reviews

This book is important reading for scholars, activists, and policy-makers interested in environmental justice and community mobilization. In short, Cox’s work will appeal to a wide range of readers; her prose is accessible, passionate, and privileges the words and perspectives of those determined to protect their homes and homeland.

NEW SOLUTIONS: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy

[This is] a breathtaking examination of how Site C was rammed through despite its devastating impacts on public finances and an ecological treasure trove … Cox delivers science journalism of the highest order, presented with passionate intensity and relentless curiosity.

The Georgia Straight

Breaching the Peace is an excellent title for Sarah Cox’s important book about the Site C Dam. That title yields a cascade of kaleidoscopic connotations — insights into this complex history of a river being broken up, of communities being divided, of “breach of the peace” lawsuits, and of byzantine machinations by BC Hydro to overcome the resistance.

BC BookLook

Environmental journalist Cox presents a well-researched, accessible history of the Site C dam, a British Columbia project that’s drawn international attention for pork barrel politics, violations of First Nations rights, and threats to the ecosystem in the Peace River Valley. With energetic prose and extensive on-the-ground reporting, Cox profiles the people and issues behind the divisive project.

Publishers Weekly

The prose in [Breaching the Peace] is lapidary, beautifully crafted to give the reader a keen sense of the unique beauties of the Peace as well as some of the personalities in the indigenous/settler alliance that is fighting to protect it.

Columbia Journal

Sarah Cox has written a searing new book about the scandalous Site C Dam in British Columbia … [she] expertly provides the context to the Site C saga that allows readers to understand what has happened here. Few people, except those who stand to profit immensely, have ever been enthusiastic about this project.


Cox supplements her journalistic account of the movement with extensive ethnographic work with the people at its forefront… the resistance has been immensely instructive of how social movements emerge and evolve to make a difference. Breaching the Peace is therefore a must-read for students and scholars of development studies, environmental studies, and social movements. Summing Up: Highly Recommended.


Painstakingly researched with a compelling writing style, A Town Called Asbestos fulfills the promise of recent U.S. environmental histories that integrated histories of labour, public health, and environmental change into a single narrative. It is essential reading for anyone interested in labour, industrial or environmental history, or any person who wants to know why a deadly substance may persist behind the walls where they live and work.

Scientia Canadensis

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