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

VIDEO: Property evacuated after mudslide closes Highway 3A

A mudslide has closed Highway 3A between Castlegar and Nelson just north of the Brilliant Dam.

RCMP annual report shows detachment issues, successes

Staffing shortages, travelling criminals were concerns in 2017

Medical staff weighs in on KBRH design

Changes coming to the regional emergency department.

B.C., Alberta clash as Kinder Morgan suspends Trans Mountain work

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley promises “serious economic consequences” for B.C.

Buy Low employee assaulted, suspect arrested

The suspect allegedly tried to steal a shopping cart.

VIDEO: Work is play for this B.C. avalanche rescue dog

CARDA certified Joss’s Job is to save lives — but to her, it’s all a game

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Whistler to open Canada’s first pod hotel

Pangea Pod Hotel to feature units big enough to fit a queen-sized mattress and not much else

Black Press Media acquires two new Alaska newspapers

New Media Investment Group to acquire the Akron (OH) Beacon Journal while Black Press Media takes on daily newspapers in Juneau and Kenai Alaska

Thieves target B.C. firefighters helping flood victims

The service has been helping with sandbagging efforts, as rural Oliver battles flooding

B.C. towns rank in top honeymoon destination worldwide

Vernon, Kaslo, Sunshine Coast and the Island hit Expedia.ca’s list of top 18 honeymoon destinations

Olympic gold now official for B.C. weightlifter

Christine Girard’s bronze medal from 2012 Olympics upgraded to gold, IOC announces

Men arrested at Starbucks say they feared for their lives

Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were arrested in a Philadelphia Starbucks, becoming viral video

Did a Canadian shoot down the Red Baron? A century later, debate hasn’t quit

Om April 21, 1918 two Canadians in their canvas-covered Sopwith Camel biplanes engaged the enemy

Most Read