WINNIPEG — Terry Nelson has a knack for generating outrageous headlines.
In 2005, for example, the now former chief of the Roseau River First Nation in southern Manitoba publicly defended disgraced former Saskatchewan Aboriginal leader David Ahenakew, who was charged with making antisemitic statements.
Nelson threatened violence and predicted that antisemitism among Aboriginals would increase if Ahenakew were to be convicted.
He has also made other antisemitic comments, referring to alleged Jewish control of the media, and he’s threatened road and rail blockades, separatism and armed revolt.
Nelson latest stirring of the pot was his visit to Iran earlier this month, along with Dennis Pashe, another former Manitoba chief. It was a follow-up to a visit by an Iranian diplomat a couple of years ago to Nelson’s reserve, at Nelson’s invitation.
Nelson and Pashe were in Iran to solicit Iranian help in their campaign against what they call the government of Canada’s “human rights abuses against aboriginal people.”
Speaking on Iranian television, Nelson and Pashe accused Ottawa of attempting to “exterminate” Canada’s aborginal peoples, based on the fact that some 600 native women have been murdered or gone missing over the past few years.
The pair also compared aboriginal reserves to concentration camps.
“This is ridiculous,” said Shelley Faintuch, community relations director for Jewish Federation of Winnipeg. “Nelson and Pashe represent no one but themselves.”
Nelson was ousted more than a year ago amid allegation of questionable loans worth several hundred thousand dollars to family members and former band employees. Between 2006 and 2008, the Roseau River First Nation under Nelson’s leadership ran up a deficit of $1.5 million.
The CJN was unable to reach any aboriginal leaders for comment by the paper’s deadline, but those who were quoted in the local media voiced unanimous disapproval of Nelson’s and Pashe’s visit to Tehran and their statements.
As for aboriginal-Jewish relationships in Manitba, the Jewish National Fund has worked closely with aboriginal leaders and communities, while aboriginal groups have visited Israel in recent years and come back with positive impressions