By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
A former Manitoba chief on his way to Tehran says the Iranian government is looking to sign agreements with First Nations.
Former Roseau River chief Terry Nelson is spending the night in Geneva, Switzerland and will be flying to Tehran on Thursday.
He will land in a country gripped by economic crisis and facing continued speculation it could also soon be the target of a precision strike by U.S. and Israeli jets.
The Harper government has also shut down its embassy in Tehran and kicked Iranian diplomats out of Canada.
Nelson, who is travelling with former Dakota Tipi First Nation chief Dennis Pashe, will be met by Iranian government officials when they land in Tehran. The two former chiefs will stay in Iran until about Oct. 19, Nelson said.
Nelson said in a telephone interview that the Iranian government was hoping to sign agreements with First Nations chiefs. While no serving chiefs travelled to Tehran with Nelson, he said he’s been in touch with some who could travel to the country on short notice.
“They are pretty serious about some areas,” said Nelson, who paid for his own flights and may be getting financial help from an unnamed non-governmental organization for some of the trip’s costs. “When we have the meetings and everything else, we’ll see what happens. We’ll so how far they are willing to go.”
Nelson has been working on a trip to Iran since this past March. He says he wants to build links between First Nations and OPEC oil cartel nations. Nelson said First Nations have to find new sources of investment beyond Canada’s allies who he has accused of ignoring Canada’s treatment of Indigenous peoples.
The former firebrand chief said he is disappointed in how some chiefs, including some he considered friends, distanced themselves over his trip to Tehran.
“I am disappointed in the chiefs. I know some of them will condemn (the trip),” said Nelson. “They hope that somehow they are going to get a few taps on the back from (Prime Minister Stephen Harper) or a minister of something like that.”
Nelson also sent a parting shot before heading for Tehran in a mass email that was published by the National Post. In the email, Nelson blamed “Jewish” media for bad press about his Iran trip and claimed a double-standard legitimized hate speech against Indigenous people.
Nelson’s published email caused a small stir on social media.
“You hear that? That’s the sound of dozens of chiefs stepping away from Terrance Nelson (psst. Take a public relations courts,” tweeted @chicosez, a Vancouver filmmaker. “Besides, why go to the Middle East for help? They haven’t solved their own stuff in 2000 years.”