Cheam Chief Ernie Crey of Chilliwack said the economic benefits of TMX could be a form of reconciliation if done right. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Progress File)

Chilliwack-area chief touts economic benefits of pipeline deal

Chief Ernie Crey pointed out this week there is no Indigenous wall of opposition to KM

Cheam Chief Ernie Crey of Chilliwack has been actively touting the benefits of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, not only for his own people of the Pilalt tribe, but for other Indigenous communities struggling to rise out of poverty.

“If the project doesn’t go through, it’ll hurt our people,” Crey said.

The Cheam leader was in Ottawa Monday preparing to appear this week before on a parliamentary committee considering changes to the National Energy Board and other regulatory bodies under bill C-69.

Crey has been active on social media and in the mainstream media trying to disabuse everyone of the notion that First Nations are united in lockstep opposition to the pipeline expansion.

It’s not so black and white, he has argued, and there is no homogeneity on the pipeline issue, despite how it is being portrayed by some.

READ MORE: Nine bands said no thanks

A provincial leader came out publicly against the pipeline but that opposition didn’t take into account those communities who favour exploring the benefits of the expansion project, the local chief said.

Former Soowahlie chief and pipeline opponent Larry Commodore took issue with Chief Crey’s media blitz showing support for the project.

“Ernie should spend some time talking with the overwhelming majority of Indigenous elders and hereditary and elected leaders across Turtle Island who have voiced their opposition to tarsands expansion, which the KM pipeline expansion would be a key part of.

“He would learn they are more than just a bunch of uninformed dupes, as he seems to think.”

Crey used the term “red-washing” to describe the view that green groups are co-opting First Nations to further their agendas “under an Indigenous flag.”

“Trust me, their goals and aspirations are far different from ours,” Crey tweeted last week. “Check out where they’ve trashed Indigenous economies to meet their ends.”

As co-chair of the Indigenous Advisory & Monitoring Committee, a committee to undertake the monitoring of the pipeline during and after construction, as well as chief of Cheam First Nation, which has signed mutual benefit agreements with Kinder Morgan, Crey has a decidedly different view than pipeline opponents.

“The perpetrators of urban myths and wishful thinking around the Kinder Morgan (TMX) expansion are getting called out big time today,” he wrote. “The media in both B.C. and Alberta have discovered that there isn’t wall to wall opposition to KM’s expansion among B.C. and Alberta First Nations.”

READ MORE: Committee forms for Indigenous monitoring

There are 43 Indigenous communities who have signed mutual benefit agreements, or MBAs, with Kinder Morgan, and who may want to “buy into” the project, Crey underlined.

For example it took years for Cheam officials to negotiate security jobs for Cheam members to work the pipeline route.

The chief sees the economic relationships being built as a way for some communities to step up “out of poverty” if they get the “right” backing. They would consider putting some money toward the pipeline twinning construction, as in equity for the project, if they were to have a lengthy discussion about it.

“This pipeline, which is very important to me, fits into the realm of economic reconciliation,” Crey said. “It might become the bootstrap from which First Nations pull themselves out of crushing poverty.”

Chief Crey wondered in a tweet if “oil by rail” isn’t more dangerous.

“A derailment of tanker cars in the Fraser Canyon would mean the oil would end-up in the salt chuck. Best choice, pipe or rail?” he asked rhetorically.

When he commented in 2016 for a TMX panel however, he was more worried about the impact of a pipeline spill on the Coquihalla.

“I sit up nights wondering what a spill into the Coquihalla River might look like.

“Even a small spill into the Coquihalla would devastate salmon in the Fraser River and plunge First Nations into utter destitution. Global trade, investment, jobs: I know those are important, but consider what could be lost.”


@CHWKjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Children gather for Easter festival in Summerland

Fourth annual Easter Egg-stravaganza included activities and egg hunt

Update: RCMP confirm body found at Kelowna’s Gyro Beach

Police tape is blocking part of the beach and several RCMP officers are on scene.

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: A sunny Easter Sunday

Temperatures will peak at approximately 20C region-wide

Summerland student examines effects of sound

Science fair project will go to national competition in New Brunswick

Hedley driver drama may come to a close next month

A Hedley man facing 11 different counts of breaching probation and driving… Continue reading

‘No answers:’ Canadians react to Sri Lanka bombings that killed hundreds

The co-ordinated bomb attacks killed at least 207 people and injured 450 more on Easter Sunday

Pets still missing after Peachland home fire

Two Pomeranians and two cats are missing after fire

Regional district backs more consultation on plans to help caribou

It is feared that the caribou recovery plans could result in closure of backcountry areas

Okanagan student shows skill at provincial finals

Aidan Eglin of Armstrong won website development event at Skills Canada’s B.C. finals in Abbotsford

Kootnekoff: Easter Bunny legal woes

Several years ago, our young daughter needed to know: “Is Santa Claus… Continue reading

Okanagan fire department rescues kittens

Enderby homeowner not aware cats were in wood pile in yard near garbage pile fire that got away

Okanagan township’s open burning winds down

Spallumcheen reminds residents of regulation changes as open burning concludes April 30

Most Read