The Chief and Council of the Simpcw First Nation are speaking out on behalf of their Nation in support of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project. “After seeing what’s out there in the media, Council decided that it’s important we speak out”, explained Chief of Simpcw, Nathan Matthew, confirming that “no other Nation or organization [First Nation or environmental] has the authority to speak on Simpcw’s behalf”.

The Simpcw are one of many Aboriginal groups who have signed a Mutual Benefit Agreement with the Expansion Project.

From Chief Nathan Matthew and Council:

The Chief and Council of the Simpcw First Nation are speaking out on their Nation’s position on the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project. This decision came after the recent media influx around Indigenous Nations and their purported positions on the Project: “After seeing what’s out there in the media, Council decided that it’s important we speak out”, explained Chief of Simpcw, Nathan Matthew, confirming that “no other Nation or organization [First Nation or environmental] has the authority to speak on Simpcw’s behalf”.

The Simpcw First Nation is one of the communities who have signed a Mutual Benefits Agreement (MBA) with Kinder Morgan. One third of the pipeline traverses Simpcw Territory, making it the First Nation with the greatest amount of land that the pipeline will pass, and arguably, one of the Nations who stand to be most impacted by the Project. “That means one third of the pipeline has the support of the Nation who holds Aboriginal Title to the land”, stated Chief Matthew.

Chief Matthew explained the process that resulted in the signing of the MBA was not a simple or hasty one: “Chief and Council sat at the negotiation table for over two years; we brought on advisors when needed to understand the different components of the Project; and we kept our People informed of our participation in the regulatory process and at the negotiation table.” He clarified the role of Chief and Council and its responsibility to the Simpcw People: “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. After that, all of our work was presented to the Community and the agreement went to a codified referendum process.” In this case, 78% of voters were in favour of executing the MBA with Kinder Morgan.

Since its execution, Simpcw staff in its Natural Resource Department and Simpcw’s economic development arm have worked diligently towards implementing the terms of the agreement in order to realize its benefits: “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 ... we have dedicated time and resources towards this Project and there would be a negative impact if this Project were to go away.”

As for the Province’s position on the Project, Chief Matthew stated, “Since coming into office, the new BC government has not reached out once to Simpcw First Nation regarding our position on the Project – perhaps this is because Premier Horgan is only interested in speaking with those First Nations who align with his opposition.” Chief Matthew went on, “We welcome Premier Horgan reaching out to us – he simply cannot continue to ignore the fact that First Nations in this Province, with unceded Aboriginal Title to their lands, have agreed to the Project proceeding”, adding “First Nations ought to have a role in the discussions happening between the federal and provincial governments right now ... 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.”