Chief of Nahanni Butte Dene Band fires band manager and lawyer
Band manager Mark Pocklington says he doesn't consider himself fired
The chief of Nahanni Butte says he fired the band's manager and lawyer on Tuesday, but the manager says he believes he still has a job.
The band council signed a resolution that says Chief Peter Marcellais is directed to fire both the band manager, Mark Pocklington, and lawyer Garth Wallbridge.
But Pocklington said he doesn't consider himself fired.
"I have not seen a piece of paper anywhere from the elders saying that they no longer want me to be a band manager," said Pocklington. "So I'm carrying on as if I'm band manager."
The resolution to fire Wallbridge and Pocklington had the signatures of four councillors and the chief, but there were no signatures from elders. In some circumstances, the band requires the signatures of six elders on binding contracts.
Without those signatures, Pocklington said he and Wallbridge are not fired.
This isn't the first time the band has tried to fire Pocklington. Chief Marcellais provided CBC with a copy of a letter addressed to Pocklington on March 1.
"This letter is to inform you that your employment with Nahanni Butte Dene Band is being terminated, effective immediately," it states.
The letter says Pocklington was being let go because he had poor management skills, had no respect for members of the band, and sent "false" letters on behalf of the band.
Pocklington said the band has tried to fire him on multiple occasions, but it doesn't follow the proper procedure, so he doesn't accept the termination letters.
Marcellais said the band decided to fire the two men because "we know they were in cahoots together. And the band doesn't like that."
Marcellais said Pocklington had been using Wallbridge as his personal lawyer, and was using him against the band — though he couldn't provide any specific examples.
Coun. Jayne Konisenta spoke with CBC at the beginning of March, before the band resolution to fire the two men was signed.
She said Pocklington sent out letters to a mining company on behalf of the band, which hadn't been approved by chief and council.
"He's just writing these letters on his own and stuff like that and that's not right."
Pocklington denies this, saying he only sent out letters that had been discussed and approved.
Concerns for safety
Pocklington said he did use Wallbridge's services to file a peace bond against members of the band.
"The councillors were being very bullying or intimidating or making threats, very serious threats, and I just had to leave."
He said the RCMP advised him to file for a peace bond, something he says the chief approved of.
Pocklington said some councillors wanted to fire him so he couldn't testify at Wallbridge's disciplinary hearing at the beginning of March.
Wallbridge is the former chief negotiator of the Dehcho First Nations, which filed a complaint to the Law Society of the Northwest Territories, alleging Wallbridge was in a conflict of interest when he represented the Nahanni Butte Dene Band after being fired by the Dehcho First Nations.
Pocklington was scheduled to testify at the hearing, and he says some members of council didn't want that to happen.
Pocklington is now staying in Edmonton with his family until a peace bond has been approved.
Wallbridge said he cannot comment because of confidentiality issues.