Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lied to Indigenous people when he said there was no relationship more important to him than with the First Peoples of this land when he was elected in 2015, says a grand chief in Quebec.
Grand Chief Serge Simon of the Kanesatake Mohawk Council said the proof is in Trudeau’s tireless support of expanding Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline.
Earlier this week, the federal government said it will go as far as pay Kinder Morgan for any costs for construction delays and are still considering passing new laws to put the pipeline in the ground from Alberta to Burnaby, B.C.
“Trudeau has said in the past his most important relationship was that with the First Nations and with this that is proving that was a lie. It’s not true,” said Simon on Nation to Nation Thursday.
“It’s very alarming that the government would go that far to protect an outside interest like Kinder Morgan, a Texas-based corporation.”
Watch the full episode of Nation to Nation below:
Simon is a member of the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion, a group of 150 First Nations and Tribes across Turtle Island.
The group was formed to fight pipeline projects through their territories and right now it has its sights set on Kinder Morgan.
But in the end, it’s about recognition of rights said Simon.
“That’s what’s at the centre of this whole thing; it’s that recognition they don’t want to give,” said Simon.
Simon has seen this unfold before.
He remembers when the Oka Crisis unfolded 28 years ago in summer of 1990 during the Battle of the Pines triggered by the Village of Oka’s desire to expand a golf course over Mohawk burial grounds. One person died and it’s something Simon said no one wants to see happen again.
But if rights are not respected he said it’s inevitable.
“If you are going to push industry concerns over First Nation concerns on our territory you are going to see a flashpoint somewhere,” he said. “I’m really hoping for my friends in B.C. that it doesn’t go that way for them.”
The Trudeau government has refused to rule out using force to build Kinder Morgan’s pipeline and there has already been hundreds of arrests.
It’s a project Trudeau has already approved and his government says First Nations and Metis groups were consulted beforehand. However, support for the project has dropped from 51 deals to 44 between to Kinder Morgan and Indigenous groups.
Some that have supported it say they felt they didn’t have a choice. In fact, Yale First Nation signed a deal because it was so beaten down and broke from colonization and the “worst” treaty agreement in Canada. It needed Kinder Morgan’s money to keep from going into third-party management.
While others like Cheam First Nation, or at least its chief Ernie Crey, say the pipeline is better than transporting the bitumen by train.
Crey has been outspoken on Twitter about Simon speaking about the pipeline saying he holds no rights in Alberta or B.C. and should stay out of it.
“He can say whatever he wants. It’s a debate we’ll have to have somewhere down the line whether I have that right or not,” said Simon.