Four women from the Buffalo Point First Nation, including a great-grandmother, were arrested last week for visiting the band office to find out why their chief has been charged with extortion.
Helen Cobiness, 82, and three other women — Andrea Camp, 54, Kari Cobiness, 20, Brittany Cobiness, 19 — have been subject to a court injunction, related to a previous protest, that bans them from going to businesses on the Manitoba reserve or entering the band office.
But the women said they went to the band office last week — defying the court order — to prove a point, knowing police would be called in.
Andrea Camp, one of the women arrested, said they wanted to get answers about the First Nation's chief, John Thunder, being charged with extortion.
"I just said, 'You know, they're not going to tell us what happened,'" Camp told CBC News on Monday.
"The only way we can exercise our right to even know anything is to go to the band office."
RCMP investigators believe Thunder contacted a federal government official and tried to derail a legal proceeding between the First Nation and a cottage owners' association in the area.
The federal government official was not part of the legal proceedings up to that point.
Late last week, Manitoba Senator Don Plett confirmed to CBC News that he was the target of the alleged extortion. He declined to discuss the details of what happened.
Plett has a cottage in Buffalo Point and used to be the president of the local cottage owners' association, which has been fighting property taxes that the First Nation levies.
Back on the First Nation, the women said they wanted to be arrested so they could tell a judge about their chief's wrongdoings.
"I felt like I was free at last when I went to jail," said Cobiness.
The four women said they cannot wait for their day in court. They are scheduled to appear in court in Steinbach, Man., in December.
Thunder is scheduled to appear in a Winnipeg courtroom on Nov. 25.