BUICK CREEK, B.C. – Three Blueberry River First Nations Council members issued their side of the evolving governance dispute story in a release to its membership.
The statement is in response to the one issued on behalf of Chief Marvin Yahey and councillors Sherry Dominic and Wayne Yahey on September 3rd.
The statement, released Wednesday on behalf of Councillors Ewaskow, Gauthier and Wolf, shows why they brought motions to the Federal Court.
According to the statement, the three councillors demand transparency in the Band’s governance, and regularly scheduled Band Council Meetings, which are required under the Band’s Custom Code to be held twice per month.
“The Chief, his two supporting councillors and the Band Administrator, who reports only to the Chief, have stridently resisted all efforts to be accountable and transparent. In order to force accountability and transparency, we three councillors have brought motions in the Federal Court,” reads the statement.
The Federal Court ordered the Chief and Band Administrator to hold meetings on May 14th. But on September 2nd, when the three councillors returned to Court, the Chief was sanctioned and ordered to pay costs to the three councillors for failing to hold meetings.
“The Court stated that the Chief would have been forced to appear and show why he was not in contempt, but we took the high road and simply asked that the Court order the Chief to pay costs. The Court ordered the Chief to pay even more than we asked. We could have forced an actual finding of contempt on the Chief, but we are aware that the court process can drag on and on,” reads the statement.
According to the September 3rd release from Yahey and two councillors, the reason for not holding Band Council meetings was a separate lawsuit concerning treaty rights being infringed upon by industrial development.
“On June 29th of this year, our Nation won the biggest court victory in our history, which confirmed that our treaty rights have been unlawfully impacted by industrial development in our territory. That decision, which consumed almost all of the Chief’s time in July, changes the way business will be done in Treaty 8 territory and will have lasting benefits for all of our members and future generations,”
The three councillors see the Order against the Chief on September 2nd as a major victory for the people of Blueberry, according to the release. They say it is a rebuke of the Chief’s misconduct and that it mandates open governance for the Band.
The statement also says the Chief mischaracterized a ruling in the lawsuit against him, suggesting the ruling was dismissed and not appealed.
“An amended claim will be filed soon alleging that the Chief extorted certain companies or individuals in our community. We will not relent in protecting the people of Blueberry.”
According to the Blueberry River First Nations website, a Chief and Council Meeting will be held Tuesday, September 14th, from 10 a.m. to noon. Members can attend the meeting by following the link on the website.
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