Burns Lake Band office blockade turns testy
A political dispute among factions of the Burns Lake Indian Band turned violent Monday. According to witnesses at a blockade of the band’s administration offices, a fight broke out between elected councillor Dan George trying to enter the offices and elders committee representative (and second place finisher in the last election for chief) Ryan Tibbetts attempting to prevent anyone’s entry.
Police are now investigating the incident. Burns Lake RCMP representatives did not respond to questions by deadline.
It is not the first time police have attended the offices of the Burns Lake Indian Band (newly renamed the Ts’il Kaz Koh First Nation) in recent weeks. Several confrontations have occurred there as elders and other members of the band demand financial documents and assurances of meaningful consultation from chief Albert Gerow, George, and administrative staff.
A third councillor, Ron Charlie, has allegedly been excluded from the business and dealings of the others in administrative positions.
“There are millions of dollars at stake here,” said one participant. “They have already made a deal with Pacific Trail Pipeline without membership consent. They are saying that Enbridge is a good idea and the members don’t want anything to do with an Enbridge pipeline coming through this traditional territory. There are all kinds of questions about money. Those financial statements should be seen by the members and they keep refusing to show them to anyone.”
One of the allegations is that Gerow – married to MLA and former provincial NDP leader Carole James – spends too much time outside of Burns Lake and, since the band offices are downtown, he doesn’t personally have contact with any of the reserves when he is in his home community.
Chief Gerow attempted but was unable to make contact with The Citizen by deadline.
“We have had enough,” said Tibbetts, following the fisticuffs. “We don’t want to be part of that whole typical story you hear about aboriginal leaders taking all the money for their own things and leaving the people with nothing. They were blocked this morning from going into the offices. We are planning to stay here until we hear from the [Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada] group, at least about conducting a full investigation.”
George and arriving staff on Monday morning called the RCMP to attend the protest, but after a series of meetings it was decided that the staff and council would not attempt to force through the human blockade.
According to Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada data, the Ts’il Kaz Koh First Nation has 116 members on four reserves, which total about 184.6 hectares.
Posted on March 29, 2013, in Indigenous Women and tagged band councils, burns lake, Burns Lake band office blockade, Burns Lake Indian Band, indian act band councils, native blockades, native protests, Ts'il Kaz Koh First Nation. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.