There is mixed reaction to the multi-billion dollar buy out of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain extension pipeline but Walking Eagle News scribe Tim Fontaine can’t help but wonder what more could have been done with the money.
“To fix the water situation on First Nations, which we all know is in a terrible state” says Fontaine. “Would’ve been less than the purchase, just the first purchase of this pipeline.
“Now they’re saying this pipeline is going to cost 4-Billion but when you factor in all of these different costs, we’re talking about $12-billion. Between $7 and $12-billion. Think of all of the things that could’ve fixed in First Nations communities.”
Opposition from Indigenous peoples is not universal.
But Cheryl Maloney feels some communities that are signing on are doing so because of the poverty they are facing.
University of Manitoba professor Niigaan Sinclair agrees.
“The challenge we are facing in our generation is one of life or death. And there’s the quick choice r there’s the long term choice,” he says. “And increasingly in a globalized world we are being pushed to make the quick choices but we’re not thinking in terms of that seven generations model that our lodges are talking about, that our ceremonies talk about, that our songs talk about.”
Fontaine, Maloney and Sinclair joined host Dennis Ward on the season finale of InFocus.
They also reflected on the one year anniversary of the MMIWG National Inquiry.
The first hearing was held in Whitehorse, one year ago.
Sinclair says the last year was one of disappointment, division and desperation.
“If you add up those three things, the division between the families and the Inquiry to all the disappointment involving all of the staff coming and going and now the desperate desire of the Commissioners to keep going to ask for longer time, it all adds up to a very dismal potential for any sort of resolution to come out of this,” he says.
There has been no word on the ask for an extension to the Inquiry.
Maloney, who is the President of the Eastern Door Indigenous Women’s Association, says she thinks it’s time to shut the Inquiry down.
“I recommended to Minister Bennett that you shut it down. This phase, as a phase and come up with up with a well thought out planned phase that can compartmentalize policing, child welfare, some of those other pieces that need to be looked at that are not being looked at,” she said.
The panel also discussed the upcoming election of a National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations.
Fontaine feels Perry Bellegarde will be re-elected National Chief.
“I think that he’s brought a lot of stability to an organization that has just come out of a decade of Conservative rule and shrinking budgets and now the money is flowing again” says Fontaine.
“That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a great leader it means things are a little ok for chiefs right now and I’m not sure they’re going to want to upset that fruit cart.”
But Maloney believes it’s the beginning of the end for national organizations like the AFN.
“The national voice that they’re trying to put forth is often in conflict with other nations. And I know there’s 65 independent nations now that say they are not part of the AFN so we’re looking at ten percent. I see that growing.”