The chief and council of a First Nation in B.C.’s southern interior has joined the chorus of voices supporting the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
“After seeing what’s out there in the media, council decided that it’s important we speak out,” said Simpcw Chief Nathan Matthew in a release Monday.
Simpcw First Nation, formerly known as North Thompson Indian Band, is one of the communities who have signed a Mutual Benefits Agreement with Kinder Morgan.
One-third of the pipeline traverses Simpcw territory, the release said, making it the First Nation with the greatest amount of land that the pipeline will pass, and arguably, one of the Nations who stands to be most affected by the project.
“That means one-third of the pipeline has the support of the Nation who holds Aboriginal title to the land,” Matthew said.
The process that led to the signing of the MBA was not a simple or hasty one, he added. It took two years.
“Our job as chief and council was to do our due diligence, conduct our own environmental assessment review, and negotiate the best deal we could for the community,” he said. “After that, all of our work was presented to the community and the agreement went to a codified referendum process.”
Seventy-eight per cent of voters were in favour of executing the benefits agreement with Kinder Morgan.
“If the project does not go ahead, we will lose out on opportunities that we have been working hard at obtaining in the last year or so,” said Simpcw councillor Don Matthew.
Nathan Matthew also pointed out that John Horgan has not reached out to the Simpcw, suggesting it’s because they do not agree with the premier’s stance against the pipeline.
“First Nations ought to have a role in the discussions happening between the federal and provincial governments right now,” the chief said.
“Premier Horgan’s approach to opposing the project at this stage in the game without any discussion or involvement of Indigenous Nations affected by, and/or invested in, the project is an example of what not to do.”