Former Roseau River chief Terry Nelson and former Dakota Tipi chief Dennis Pashe were invited to appear on Press TV, an English-language television network controlled by the Iranian government.
Nelson and Pashe arrived in Tehran last Thursday and Press TV ran a series of pieces on Canada’s treatment of Indigenous peoples in the run up to their visit.
Nelson and Pashe have been meeting with Iranian government officials in an effort to build links between Tehran and First Nations in Canada and lay the groundwork for possible agreements.
It’s unclear what sorts of agreements are possible since Canada has imposed economic sanctions against Iran, including a prohibition on “conduction financial transaction with Iran” and establishing a “banking relationship with Iranian financial institutions.”
“I have met with various ministers in the Iranian government. As a technician working for several First Nations, my job is to identify who will the chiefs meet with when they come to Tehran,” said Nelson, in an email sent late Sunday evening.
Press TV aired a short story before the interview with Nelson and Pashe which touched on the ongoing issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and included claims that the Harper government has been trying to “silence Aboriginal rights activists” and “launched a public campaign to discredit them.”
Press TV also quoted from the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP) saying that the “human rights of First Nations people are being widely violated in Canada.”
Press TV story also claimed that this “ugly fact in the Canadian society that goes unreported.”
The story also blamed Ottawa for the crack down on Quebec student demonstrations.
Press TV said Canada’s human rights abuses go unnoticed because Canada’s “allies turn a blind eye to the issue.”
Nelson said in the interview with Press TV that “there is Holocaust denial in North America.” Nelson called reservations “concentration camps” and said Canada had imposed “economic sanctions” on First Nations people.
Nelson said Canada is getting rich off resources from Indigenous lands, yet keeping the original owners poor.
“Indigenous peoples in North America are one of the riches people in the world. They have more lands, more resources,” said Nelson. “Canada’s currently pumping 2.5 million barrels of oil to the United States and it’s pretty clear that none of that oil is paid for…The Indigenous people are saying, we don’t need immigrant money. We don’t need tax payer money. We need to share our own resources.”
Pashe said the Canadian government has been involved in ongoing efforts to “exterminate” Indigenous peoples.
“We are a race of people that are endangered,” said Pashe. “They use policies, they use legislation. In the past they used the gun and disease infested blankets to wipe out or people to take our resources, take our lands and exploit them for their own profit. Today they use legislation as the gun and alcohol and drugs as the bullet.”
While Pashe spoke, images that appeared to be taken from the Quebec student protests rolled in the background.
“The Indigenous peoples lands, their wealth and resources have been seized by the immigrants and immigrant government,” said Nelson.