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

If not Greyhound, it’s time to consider all options

Weekly editorial for the 100 Mile Free Press

Local brewery added to B.C. Ale Trail

Barkerville Brewing one of eight breweries on a new arm of the trail

Williams Lake man, firefighter remembered by MP Todd Doherty in emotional speech

Family asks first responders to look after one another in wake of suicide, growing concerns of PTSD

Fresh faces, new information and new ranch enterprises

Columnist David Zirnhelt on local funding and projects

Incumbent city councillor Laurey-Anne Roodenburg hopes for four more years

Roodenburg has sat on City Council for the past 10 years

Conservation officer frees B.C. deer from flotation gear mishap

BC Conservation Officer Service is reminding residents to keep backyards clear of entanglements

Lions earn stunning 35-32 OT win over Ticats

Epic comeback lifts B.C. past Hamilton in CFL thriller

Czarnik nets 3 as Flames dump Canucks 5-2

Calgary picks up exhibition win over Vancouver

Ottawa to name new ambassador for women, peace and security, Freeland says

Chrystia Freeland also confirmed Canada would spend about $25 million to fund number of initiatives

‘A little bright spot:’ Ottawa residents rescue dog trapped beneath rubble

Freelance journalist says rescue of a dog trapped under rubble was happy ending amid chaos in Ottawa

B.C. deaf community wants different sign languages on federal accessibility act

Advocates also want Indigenous Sign Language to be recognized on the Indigenous Language Act

Airline has ‘close call’ with drone while en route to B.C. airport

Jazz Aviation reported the drone sighting near Vancouver to the RCMP and Transport Canada

Tragic accident claims life of B.C. toddler

Fundraising effort has been created to help mom and family

B.C. nanny charged with sex abuse of 3 children

Saanich Police seek potential victims of Johnathon Lee Robichaud from Central Saanich

Most Read