Calgary

First Nation chief and council ordered to step down

A Federal Court judge has removed the chief and council of the Bearspaw First Nation from office.

A Federal Court judge has removed the chief and council of the Bearspaw First Nation from office.

In October 2010, the chief and council for the band southwest of Calgary renewed their terms of office without holding an election.

Chief David Bearspaw Jr. made the move after surveying 420 band members who narrowly agreed to put off an election.

On Friday, a judge in Calgary called that process "flawed" and said it contradicted both procedural fairness and the band's own customs.

The issue wound up in court after six band members complained and hired a lawyer.

"It's one of those things you take for granted until it is actually taken away from you. They are just thrilled there is going to be an election and they're going to have the opportunity to vote for their governing leaders, which is their chief and council," said lawyer Heather Tracey, who represented the complainants.

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

The judge has ordered that an election must be held within 60 days.

The Bearspaw band is part of the Stoney Nakoda Nation, along with the Chiniki and Wesley bands.

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