K'atl'odeeche First Nation rejects plan to manage $28.3M 'cows and plows' agreement

Chief Roy Fabian says after these results he won't be running in the next election: 'I worked hard on this thing and for me it's about future generations.'

K'atl'odeeche First Nation chief 'sad to be a KFN member today'; won't run in next election for chief

K’atl'odeeche First Nation Chief Roy Fabian says today he's 'sad to be a KFN member.' (Kirsten Murphy/CBC)

The K'atl'odeeche First Nation (KFN) near Hay River, N.W.T. has officially rejected a proposed management plan of a $28.3 million agricultural settlement, leaving the chief "disappointed" and saying he won't be running in the next election.

Roy Fabian spoke briefly with CBC after additional ballots from a Sept. 5 ratification vote were counted today, solidifying a vote result that was under appeal.

"For me, I'm sad to be a KFN member today," Fabian said. "I worked hard on this thing and for me it's about future generations."

The settlement comes from a claim with the federal government that falls under Treaty 8. The treaty, ratified in 1900, promised "cows and plows" to First Nations that wanted to take up farming.

The band accepted a $28.3 million settlement in November 2017.

The chief and council were proposing a trust agreement with an individual payout of $15,000 to 645 K'atl'odeeche members. The remaining $18 million would be held in trust and managed by a trust agreement committee.

I'm not going to run again. This contributed big time.- Roy Fabian, K'atl'odeeche First Nation chief

The final vote today was 144 voting to reject the offer, and 137 voting to accept.

Today's rejection followed an appeal of the Sept. 5 ratification vote, which was also narrowly rejected the offer by a vote of 135 to 132. The appeal was based on concern that 19 mail-in ballots had been excluded because of improper labelling.

In the end, 14 mail-in ballots were included in the count.

Chief won't run in next election

Fabian, who has spent the last decade negotiating the the $28.3 million settlement, says it's "back to the drawing board" to set up a new committee and a new working group to manage the money — but he won't be part of it.

Fabian's name will not be on the ballot for chief in the First Nation's Nov. 6, in part because of these results, he said.

"I'm not going to run again. This contributed big time," he said.

Several dozen people crammed into the council chamber for the closed-door count. There was a mixture of reactions when leaving office, ranging from swearing to smiling.

Doug Lamalice, member of the K'atl'odeeche First Nation, has publicly been in favour of rejecting the management plan. (Kirsten Murphy/CBC)

Doug Lamalice has spoken publicly of supporting a "no" vote.

Today in a text message, he said: "I'm feeling like the KFN members have finally be[en] heard."