Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Accountability crisis in Janvier

80 per cent of band members sign a petition to get rid of their chief. The result? The Chief stays!

The Fort McMurray Today is on the scene:

For many on the reserve, which comprises part of the community of Janvier 120 kilometers southeast of Fort McMurray, the chief hasn't been doing his job.

"The conditions of the houses are really poor," said Agnes Duke, a 53-year-old band member and an organizer of the petition. "It's sad to see. This is our traditional land and with all the oil around us, our children are hungry." Some houses on the reserve lack running water, something the chief denies. A tour of the community seems to run contrary to his assertion, however.

And what would a band political action be without veiled threats and intimidation.

Several people, in fact, said they've already felt the repercussions for being involved with the petition. A Today reporter listened to a cellphone message from a man who identified himself as Walter Janvier to one person helping with the petition telling him to "stay off the reserve" for "opening your f---ing mouth too often."

The man, Rob Galloway, is an employee of one of the main petition organizers, Vern Janvier.
And as for the housing problem, the Chief says he is focusing on the most needy in the community -- like single moms. Those who have oil sands jobs can do it themselves. Would you believe that the Chief is one of those "most in need" on the reserve?

While the band gets money from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada for water and housing, officials prefer to focus repairs on the neediest households, many of which are run by single mothers, Marcel said. The band is, in fact, constructing new housing -- 18 homes are set to go up this year -- but the best home, residents say, belongs to the chief himself, a two-storey A-frame log house. The building, which was built a few years ago, is nice but it has structural problems, Marcel said. Asked if it's the nicest house, he said, "I don't think so. It looks good from the outside."


Meaghan Walker-Williams said...

And the reason the Chief Stays is because there is no provision in the Indian Act for the removal of a Chief or Counsellor, except by the Minister...

And guess who that would be?

Hint... it's not Robert Nault anymore.

Take it up with Jim Prentice. He is the only one empowered under Canadian law to get rid of that Chief.

And I'm sure he'll get right on it!


David MacLean said...

Yes and no. If the Chief honoured his own bylaws we wouldn't be talking right now. Maybe the petition wasn't totally legit, but even getting 50 per cent would make me quit and try to run again.

At some point in time, the chiefs and band members have to take responsibility for the messes they create.

Meaghan Walker-Williams said...

Have you even read the Indian Act?

We can sign up the entire bloody band on a petition to kick out a Chief from office... but the ONLY authority that can actually remove them from office IS the Minister.

You should know this. Just ask Tanis.
We discussed this regularly when the Liberals were in power.

So with 80% of the membership wanting the Chief impeached, why isn't Mr.Prentice investigating? Why isn't he taking the will of the people forward on this and removing the chief and forcing a by-election?

He is the ONLY person empowered to do this, under Canadian law.

Why doesn't he?

Riddle me that David.
The band members seem to have done everything they can to get rid of the chief by coming forward with their petition.

They have already done their part.

Your rebuttal is a little like expecting Jean Chretien to have graciously resigned over adscam....

Doesn't happen in the non-native political world, won't happen in the native political world.

Why is the Hon. Jim Prentice allowing this Chief to remain in office, and thereby thwarting the democratic will of the 80% of the band who want him recalled?

Could it be, because under the CPC, the Indian Affairs portfolio is business as usual, as it was under the Liberals?

Or did you forget when you posted this who was in control of the indian act machine these days?

David MacLean said...

Meaghan, I was talking much more broadly. I have read the indian act (cursed be its name), and I'm aware of the minister's powers.

I was just thinking that we need to stop thinking in terms of what the feds should or shouldn't do and instead foster sound reserve democracies.

One day, that indian act isn't going to exist.

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