Calgary

Delayed Alta. band vote sparks legal fight

Some members of the Bearspaw First Nation west of Calgary are planning legal action to force a band election that was delayed.
Chief David Bearspaw defends the decision to postpone the band election, saying he and the council need more time to address social problems in the community. ((CBC))
Some members of the Bearspaw First Nation west of Calgary are planning legal action to force a band election that was delayed.

In October, the band council announced it was postponing the vote slated for December until 2012. Chief David Bearspaw said he needed the time to address problems in the community stemming from drug and alcohol addiction and unemployment.

But band member Cindy Daniels said she and other members have hired a lawyer to file an injunction ordering the vote to proceed.

"We want an election. And legally to just bring out — if there was any wrongdoing — to show that. And if there isn't, then there isn't," she said.

"We just want justice. We just want things done right and not behind closed doors."

The decision to postpone the election was based on a survey of 420 band members in which the majority agreed to an extension of the term for the chief, according to Bearspaw.

 

"I'm just trying to bring in more resources. But in order to do that we have to really address some of the current situations within our community," he said.

In October, dozens of disgruntled band members blocked the road leading to the reserve at Eden Valley, 60 kilometres southwest of Calgary, to demand the election go ahead.

The Bearspaw First Nation is one of three bands comprising the Stoney Nakoda Nation along with the Chiniki and Wesley.

On Monday, all three Stoney Nakoda chiefs took out full-page ads in Calgary newspapers refuting reports that their combined salaries topped $1 million in 2009.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation first made the claim but later issued a correction on its website.

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