'Admitted my wrongs': Past chief, convicted drug trafficker elected on Key First Nation

Clarence Papequash, who was convicted of drug trafficking in 2017, has been elected chief of Key First Nation, located in east-central Saskatchewan.

New election ordered by judge after 2016 results thrown out due to vote-buying

Key First Nation elected a new chief and council on Monday. (Google maps)

Clarence Papequash has been elected chief of Key First Nation, months after being released from jail on drug trafficking and weapons charges.

Papequash was released from jail in December after pleading guilty in March 2017 to possession of codeine for the purpose of trafficking and possession of ammunition while prohibited, and being given a one-year sentence. He was a band councillor for the east-central Saskatchewan First Nation at the time and was suspended the day after the charges were laid.

He had previously resigned as band chief in 2014 when he was given a six-month conditional sentence for selling a morphine pill to a man working for the RCMP.

Papequash said people voted him in despite his conviction because he was upfront about it.

"I stood in front of the people and admitted my wrongs," he said. "So I apologized, and that's the only way you can heal. Admit your wrongs and stand in front of the people instead of trying to hide it in the closet."

He also said he had a good plan and a good team behind him. He and the five councillors who were elected ran as a block.

2016 election thrown out

This election comes after the results of the 2016 Key First Nation election were thrown out. A federal court judge ruled that vote buying and the misconduct of elected chief Rodney Brass and councillors Glen O'Soup, Sidney Keshane and Angela Desjarlais corrupted the election.

Two of those people, Angela Desjarlais and Sidney Keshane, ran for council in the recent election, but didn't win a council spot.

Papequash said he wants to enact a new election act, financial act, membership act and constitution, "so people like that won't get away with stuff down the road."

"These people that … did all this stuff, former leaders, were allowed to rerun in this election, no charges," he said. "They should have never been able to run."

Papequash was among those who launched the federal court appeal of the last election, along with Clinton Key and Glenn Papequash.

Clinton Key was one of the councillors elected on Tuesday. Also elected to council are David Darrel Cote, Chris Gareau, Marcy Pelletier, and Gilda DoKuchie.

About the Author

Ashleigh Mattern

Ashleigh Mattern is a web writer and reporter with CBC Saskatoon, and an associate producer with Saskatoon Morning. She has been working as a journalist since 2007 and joined CBC in 2017. Email: ashleigh.mattern@cbc.ca

With files from Chelsea Laskowski