Ted Tsetta, Yellowknives Dene face off in federal court
Band removed Tsetta as chief of Ndilo after he called for 3rd party management
The Yellowknives Dene First Nation was in court Tuesday in Edmonton fighting a claim the band council wrongfully removed Ted Tsetta as chief of Ndilo last year.
Tsetta filed an application to have the band's decision overturned by a federal judge. The court heard from lawyers for both Tsetta and the band council.
Tsetta's lawyer says last summer his client was approached by a number of band members who were concerned about the finances of the band-owned Det'on Cho Corporation.
Both sides testified about half a million dollars was unaccounted for in the corporation's books. They say the CEO of Det'onCho told council it wasn't enough money to be concerned about and council didn't pursue it further.
Tsetta says that was just one of the reasons he wrote a letter to the federal government in June 2012 calling for a third party manager to take over. He wrote that the band was corrupt, mismanaged, fraudulent and thieves.
The letter was written on YKDFN letterhead and Tsetta signed his name as chief of Ndilo, but the lawyer for the band council says the band had no idea about the letter and they weren't consulted before it was sent.
The band's lawyer called the allegations in the letter hearsay. He said the band had every right to suspend Tsetta because he damaged the council's reputation.
The court also heard that in August, two months after Tsetta was stripped of his powers and salary, council held a special meeting to discuss Tsetta's future with the band.
At the meeting, the band told Tsetta he could come back as chief if he redacted the letter and if he submitted to random drug testing. Tsetta said no and a month and a half later Roy Erasmus Sr., father of Det'on Cho's CEO, Roy Erasmus Jr., was named acting chief.
Tsetta's lawyer says council kicked him out as punishment for calling out their corruption. She says band council didn't follow election code when they suspended him and they were simply trying to humiliate him by asking for a drug test.
Tsetta is asking that council pay for his legal fees, damages and give him back pay. The amount is expected to be hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The judge is expected to make his decision in January on whether or not to overturn the band's ruling.