Calgary

Detour fees at Stoney Nakoda First Nation after highway crash justified, says elder

An elder of the Stoney Nakoda First Nation west of Calgary is defending the actions of some band members who charged money to let motorists detour through the reserve after a fatal collision brought traffic to a standstill on the Trans-Canada Highway.

Some residents charged $20 for passage, others erected blockades

As motorists on Highway 1 tried to get out of a massive traffic jam following a fatal crash Monday, blockades were erected on the Stoney Nakoda First Nation to prevent shortcutting over to Highway 1A. Some reserve residents reportedly charged money to allow motorists to detour through the settlement. (Nathan Godfrey/CBC)

An elder of the Stoney Nakoda First Nation west of Calgary is defending the actions of some band members who charged money to let motorists detour through the reserve after a fatal collision brought traffic to a standstill on the Trans-Canada Highway.

Elder Roland Rollinmud was reacting to the anger of some motorists who either faced blockades, or were charged toll money after the collision between a semi-trailer and a minivan Monday afternoon killed an 86-year-old woman and injured several other people.

As motorists on Highway 1 tried to get out of a massive traffic jam following a fatal crash Monday, blockades were erected on the Stoney Nakoda First Nation to prevent shortcutting over to Highway 1A. Some reserve residents reportedly charged money to allow motorists to detour through the settlement. (Justin Pennell/CBC)

In the aftermath, the eastbound lanes near Scott Lake Hill, about 50 kilometres west of Calgary, were shut down for several hours.

Many frustrated motorists tried to get out of the traffic jam by taking short cuts through Morley, the main Stoney settlement, to get north onto Highway 1A.

Some residents of the First Nation set up blockades to prevent the shortcuts, while others reportedly charged money to let motorists to pass through the land.

Rollinmud says that was justifiable. 

"We've seen the Parks Canada collecting from going into the park. The reserve is just like a park to us," he said.

"And I do believe that I would do that if someone would come on my territorial, just like going through my backyard."

But Tabatha Clarke, who also lives on the reserve, says the purpose of the blockades was to prevent trespassing and ensure the safety of the residents. She says she's sorry some people took it upon themselves to charge tolls.

"They were kind of speeding through. We even had semi-trucks on the gravel road. So it was more to prevent them. Most of us tried to provide alternative routes," she said.

"And as for the people who were charging and the people who were being rude, you know, I apologize for that. They should have handled it differently."

Clarke says some people were charging $20 per shortcut.

"We heard that someone made about $500. Easy way to make money I guess," she said. 

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