The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs issued a letter Wednesday night demanding that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologize for his treatment of its secretary treasurer, and Neskonlith Chief Judy Wilson.
“We are writing to convey our absolute condemnation of your condescending and sexist response to UBCIC Secretary-Treasurer Kukpi7 Judy Wilson yesterday afternoon during the Assembly of First Nations meeting in Ottawa,” the letter starts.
Trudeau addressed chiefs at the Assembly of First Nations Special Chiefs Assembly Tuesday afternoon.
During his speech, Trudeau recounted the accomplishments of his government’s three years in office.
After Trudeau took questions, and the first was from Wilson.
“I applaud the work you’re doing on child and family and languages,” Wilson said. “But prime minister, when you’re talking about the United Nations and you’re going to go along with the self-determination and the consent, why wasn’t that applied with the Trans Mountain pipeline (extension)? It’s going through 513 kilometres of our territory – there was no consent.”
“I could say more but I don’t want to go past that. There was no consent on that. You can’t count a few IBA’s (Impact Benefit Agreement) with some of the communities as consent because it’s the proper title holders of those nations that hold the title. And it’s the bands that might have been under duress – but it’s not a proper process.”
(Neskonlith Chief Judy Wilson)
It was Trudeau’s response that has the UBCIC demanding an apology after he addressed Wilson by her first name – something the prime minister didn’t do with other chiefs who asked questions.
“I would be careful about minimizing or ascribing reasons for people who take positions that disagree with you… I don’t think we should be criticizing them, just because they disagree with you, Judy.”
The UBCIC said that it is this type of treatment of women sets a dangerous precedent that threatens Indigenous women.
“Your response to her yesterday, from the highest elected office in the country, runs the risk of sending a message to Canadians that it’s ok to belittle, berate and lecture female Indigenous leaders.
“It sends a message that it’s ok to continue these attacks towards our Indigenous women whether it is in the boardroom, meetings or dealing with issues on the land, and it runs the grave risk of discouraging Indigenous women to stand up to defend themselves.”
No chiefs that followed Wilson confronted Trudeau on the exchange.
The Prime Minister’s Office did not respond before this story was posted.
B.C. chiefs are holding a news conference in Ottawa Thursday to address the Trans Canada project.
On Friday, Indigenous leaders meet with Trudeau at a conference in Montreal ahead of the First Minister’s meeting.
More to come.