Protesters continue to occupy Gitwangak band office
Gitwangak band members continue to occupy parts of the band office. They say they’re concerned that the Gitwangak Band Council is taking over the administration of education services. Previously, education for the community was provided by the Gitwangak Education Society.
Anita Davis is a hereditary chief, and also one of the protest organizers.
She says they’re concerned over what they say is a lack of consultation and transparency.
Protesters are calling for a suspension of council business and early elections.
Dwayne Hill has children at the local school and says it’s uncertainty and poor communication is causing uncertainty.
But Gitwangak Chief Councillor Fred Johnson says the band council has done its job in letting the community know what’s happening.
He says newsletters have been sent out, information provided at the annual general meeting, and the band has a new website.
Johnson adds the community is struggling economically.
But he says funding will actually increase with the band office taking back management of education programming,
He says no programs or personnel will be cut.
According to Johnson, a recent audit showed inefficiencies and duplication with the current system, something he says is costing the community money.
Johnson also notes the band council has a number of initiatives to improve transparency and accountability, and points to the education society as the one that isn’t being transparent.
Members of the Gitwankgak Indian Band evicting co-managers and council
Members of the Gitwankgak Indian Band are calling for new band elections.
Upset band members say current band co-managers and councillors haven’t been looking out for their people.
Anita Davis is a band member and says the council isn’t transparent.
Davis says residents are also concerned over the lack of financial audits.
She says they want to have discussions with band the managers and the chief councillor to come up with a resolution.
Protesters occupied the band office last Thursday, and Davis says they’ll stay there until a solution is reached.
Gitwangak Chief Councillor Frederick Johnson says the band office is taking control of the community’s education due to concerns over the Gitwangak Education Society’s administration.
He also notes as a band, they have more options to apply for resources.