Colonization forced Yale First Nation to sign deal with Kinder Morgan says chief - APTN NewsAPTN News

Colonization forced Yale First Nation to sign deal with Kinder Morgan says chief

Nation to Nation
When Ken Hansen was elected as chief of Yale First Nation three and half years ago he immediately had a financial gun to his head.

Hansen said his nation was broke and on the brink of third-party management.

So he had two choices.

Take a deal with Kinder Morgan and use that money to maybe lift his community out of poverty. It would be just enough, he said, to buy him a year to turn things around.

But then he would also be ignoring his own beliefs that his people are guardians of the land.

Or he could implement the treaty that had taken years to negotiate between Yale and the federal and British Columbia governments.

Doing that would have meant giving up his community’s rights and title.

Hansen said he refused to implement it.

“The treaty has not come into force,” he said.

So he went with Kinder Morgan.

“I was in a financial place where I had to accept (the Kinder Morgan) money,” said Hansen on Nation to Nation that traveled to British Columbia this week to speak with chiefs that signed deals with Kinder Morgan.

Those deals allow the Texas company to expand its Trans Mountain pipeline through their First Nation or traditional territory. For many that suggests support for the project.

That’s not how Hansen sees it, even if his administration sent a letter of support to the National Energy Board.

It’s just a piece of paper he said.

It was take the deal with Kinder Morgan or what he said is the worst treaty in Canada.

“I literally had my hands tied. I was handed a failed treaty … it drove us right down into despair,” he said. “We couldn’t afford housing; we couldn’t afford food.”

He said even the local plumber wouldn’t come do work at Yale.

It was recently revealed that support for the project dropped among First Nations. Shortly after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved the Trans Mountain expansion project in late 2016, Kinder Morgan said it had 51 deals. But that number dropped to 43, where it stands now, after eight First Nations didn’t ratify an agreement about a year ago.

Yale members did vote to accept a deal, which was another factor that played into Hansen’s decision.

But he said the treaty negotiations and generations of being squeezed under the Indian Act, as well as nearly being destroyed by residential schools, have nearly broken his people.

“I think our community has become dependent on our band office for cash handouts. It’s a learned behavior created from the past. I do understand where they are coming from,” said Hansen. “Now when the word ‘Kinder Morgan’ is spoken (my) phone lights up and they ask how much money are we getting.”

But Hansen said he wants to help his people change that frame of mind.

Watch Chief Ken Hansen’s full interview here:


Hansen used portions of the Kinder Morgan money to hire qualified staff that could help his administration that has led to better housing.

He said Yale wouldn’t be hurt if the pipeline deal fell through and that’s what many are beginning to think may happen with Trudeau having to recently offer to pay and pass new law to get it built after Kinder Morgan gave a May 31 deadline to ensure the project can go ahead. His government also hasn’t ruled out using force to get the pipeline in the ground as it is faced with fierce opposition by Indigenous land protectors and cities, like Burnaby and Vancouver.

There’s also the matter court cases, like the judicial review that is expected to have a decision soon and involves several First Nations, including Coldwater that is about an hour north of Yale.

Their brothers and sisters over at Lower Nicola Indian Band also have a deal with Kinder Morgan but it’s conditional.

Chief Aaron Sumexheltza said his council will decide within the next month or two whether to accept it. Members narrowly accepted to sign a deal with Kinder Morgan just over a year ago. Of 964 eligible voters only 187 cast a ballot.

Sumexheltza said while he and his council have concerns for the environment and the salmon, he’s had other concerns.

“Regardless of what happens, whether it goes ahead or not we don’t want to be left behind,” he said.

Meanwhile, the man who drafted section 35 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the section that every Indigenous person is affected by, said Indigenous rights are being left out of the debate between Trudeau and the British Columbia government.

“The sleeper behind this is the First Nations rights,” said Jack Woodward. “Mainly we are talking about section 35 rights.”

He said there are treaty rights, as well as Aboriginal rights and title.

“All three are at play with respect to the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion,” he said.

He said those rights are greater than the debate between Canada and provinces.

And could stop the project in its tracks.

Tags: , , ,

12 Responses to “Colonization forced Yale First Nation to sign deal with Kinder Morgan says chief”

    Dj Hanson May 1, 2018 at 7:27 am #

    There is a second coming of an accommodation and secduction of take take take. This time its the corporations turn to expropiate and exploit and take our woundedness of Indigenous people.
    At the end of the day you cant eat breath or drink money!

    Diane April 29, 2018 at 8:34 pm #

    I feel like you made the deal in haste- I mean I think you should have given your self a personal time line to explore other options. I’m afraid when a spill happens near your home you will feel pretty bad about it- it’s not worth the risk to the precious land we are meant to protect. I know that poverty, alcoholism, lack of self worth is a direct side affect of residential schools, however many of our nations managed to pull out of this hole our ancestors were thrown into. It’s not an easy journey but I do encourage other First Nations NOT to give into this big kinder Morgan demon who threatens the land we are privileged to live on. If you want out of poverty then please go back to school, I found going back to school on MY TERMS with a clear goal of wanting a better life helped with my healing process- it helped me become stronger and more resilient. Kinder Morgan please go away.

      Terina May 2, 2018 at 7:52 am #

      Thank you

    LSC April 29, 2018 at 4:44 pm #

    I wonder when mainstream media will delve this deep and fins out the real and very complicated reasons why some First Nations are considering a deal with KM.

    Beverly Deleary April 29, 2018 at 3:18 am #

    Water is priceless…water is life….our ancestors fought and died because they believed and respected the seventh generation….we can’t let anything or anyone come between our belief or the responsibilities that was bestowed to indigenous people by Gzhemindo – even when all se seems lost – returning back to the ways of our ancestors are needed – that also means to bc self sustaining and yes that will take time but we should never lose sight or mind of this…..the seventh generation is depending on us

    Patrick Longworth April 28, 2018 at 10:11 pm #

    Thank you for this important article!

    Dorothy April 28, 2018 at 9:03 pm #

    What would you do now be briefed by people with cheese or would you have money or Gun point you are also saving many things clean water clean air who do you think needs more help Goverment or we public people

    CHARLENE MINER April 28, 2018 at 5:03 pm #

    The people voted for it because they are desperate. I hope this doesn’t go through as these companies and governments take advantage of Indigenous people who already suffer from the effect of colonialism and who have gotten little in return and these process is still entact. We need Chiefs to run their reserves legitimately and be held accountable for any misuse of funds and have proof of where these funds are going. Also, when making deals all Chiefs should look out for one another as a whole for all nations to nations so that they stick together and get the benefits they deserve. It sound like the same repetitive process that took place when making treaties with the government agents to gain the land. Some got better deals then others. Can we let this happen again! and get little in return. Negotiation should be nations to nations so that we benefit so that are people will not live in poverty, stick together in solitarity to get the best deal for our peoples’s future.

      Terina May 2, 2018 at 7:50 am #

      Thank you

      Terina May 2, 2018 at 7:51 am #


    Sandra Slobodian April 27, 2018 at 7:48 pm #

    Thank you for your investigative journalism.

    Clive Garlow April 27, 2018 at 2:33 pm #

    Trudeau needs to be challenged in the SCoC to explain his abuse of section 35 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I don’t recall any exemption of this section of the Charter when it comes to being “in the national interest.”