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Monday, October 1, 2012

Piikani Chief's supporters rally in Brocket


Chris Davis, Pincher Creek Voice

A rally supporting Piikani Chief Gayle Strikes With A Gun
started with a small parade on Sunday

C. Davis photo
A small rally was held in Brocket on Sunday, September 30 in support of suspended Piikani Chief Gayle Strikes With A Gun.  The rally began with a parade through the streets of Brocket and continued with speeches from various community members in front of the Peigan Nation Administration building.  A teepee is also in place at that site, and Piikani Member Dominic Crow Shoe has been living in it since Friday, September 21, vowing to stay until a petition for the removal of all 12 Piikani Council members gets 701 signatures.

Those supporting the Chief are asking for the current council to be dissolved and an election to be held.



Chief Strikes With A Gun was suspended by the Piikani Council for 30 days on September 5 after a dispute about the contract for Piikani Medical Transportation, which is owned by her sister.  Council claimed the Chief was in a conflict of interest and was using her position of authority inappropriately when dealing with administration staff about the contract.


Graffitti in Brocket
C. Davis photo

"This includes stepping outside of policy and inappropriately using her position of authority towards staff, without a decision of legal quorum of her council," was the position of Piikani Council expressed in a written statement.  "The Chief has refused to stop interfering or to accept the decision of Council."

A Court of Queen’s Bench judge recently ruled the council had the authority to suspend the Chief.

A 1988 Piikani Nation Custom Election Bylaw was mentioned by all of the speakers at the rally, who disputed the provincial court's right to decide the matter, averring it to be under federal jurisdiction.

A press release was circulated during the rally.  "The Council Members did not follow the procedures and process required under the Piikani Nation Election Bylaw, 2002 which governs removals and/or terminations," it claims.  "The Council Members have over ruled Our Law, stepped on it and opened our doors to the Province and never once did they consult the Piikani Members to explain the issue or ask for our input".

Lorna Born With A Tooth
C. Davis photo
"We all know that we are not under the jurisdiction of the Province," said speaker Lorna Born With A Tooth during the rally.  "We are under the Federal jurisdiction, and even further than that, we are under this Piikani law that was quashed when they brought in the injunction."

The Custom Election Bylaw also figured prominently in a letter from Strikes With A Gun circulated throughout the community.

“I will repeat that sections 74 to 80 of the Indian Act do not apply to the Piikani Nation. Therefore, Council do not have the power or authority to suspend an elected Piikani Chief, only the people have the power to remove the Chief or Council members under the Peigan Nation Custom Election By-Law,” Strikes With A Gun said in the letter.

Section 79 of the Indian Act states:
The Governor in Council may set aside the election of a chief or councillor of a band on the report of the Minister that he is satisfied that(a) there was corrupt practice in connection with the election;(b) there was a contravention of this Act that might have affected the result of the election; or(c) a person nominated to be a candidate in the election was ineligible to be a candidate.

Section 81 of the Indian Act states, in part:
The council of a band may make by-laws not inconsistent with this Act or with any regulation made by the Governor in Council or the Minister.

"This Piikani Nation Custom Election bylaw is our law, and we need to stand up for our law," reiterated Born With A Tooth.

Rodney Big Bull
C. Davis photo
Band Member Rodney Big Bull said "This land that we are standing on right now is sovereign territory."
He expressed concern about the provincial ruling that Strikes With A Gun be temporarily barred from government buildings on the Brocket reserve.
"Sovereign means nobody owns this land but us guys."

Band Member Angela Wolf  Tail said "This injunction was applied in the provincial courts, which means our federal jurisdiction was overlooked, our Indian Act was set aside, so as our Custom Code, and therefore we're just regular Canadian citizens today."

"A precedent has been set because it was overruled in the provincial system, which means it can happen straight across Canada.  All the Chiefs, all aboriginal people across Canada are now affected by what we do today."

"We still have the right to take this matter into our own hands."

"Pray hard, forgive each other, and come together."

Domenic Crowshoe urged Piikani members to visit him at his teepee to discuss the situation. "The membership has to fight," he said.  "Are we going to let 12 people bury us one more time?"

 "Come out.  Today is a start.  Remember that.  Today is a start."

Chief Strikes With A Gun was not present at the rally.  Organizers explained she was legally barred access to any provincial buildings on the Brocket reserve. According to her representative at the rally, Strikes With A Gun's lawyer also recommended she not talk to the media at this time.

Note: Several Piikani Members have talked with me off the record both pro and con the Chief's suspension, but none other than the speakers at the rally were willing to go on the record with their comments.  If you're willing to go on the record with your thoughts about this or any other Piikani Nation issue, contact us at pinchercreekvoice@gmail.com.

Related links and sources:
Lethbridge Herald story
Global Lethbridge story
The Indian Act



2 comments:

  1. Anonymous4/4/14

    Keep on writing, great job!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous28/9/14

    Prayers for the people!!!! The corrupt council is denouncing the Chief as having a conflict of interest. How can that be when she excused herself from decision making in any matters where there was a conflict. Massive amounts of money are missing and unaccounted for and now the counsel want two million more to build an arena when the Elders are suffering, the children are hungry and the people live in overcrowded, substandard and damaged housing. It is time to go back to our traditional teachings of kindness, caring and respect for each other. These lateral forms of violence must end and we must stand up and take care of ourselves, our families, our communities and our way of life in a good way.

    ReplyDelete

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