A few Yekooche band members were protesting alongside Stuart Drive on June 14, in conjunction with simultaneous protests in Prince George and Vancouver.
The Prince George protest saw picketers outside of the Yekooche Band offices and the Vancouver protest took place outside the offices of the Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.
Band members say they are frustrated by a lack of recognition of by-election results from April 18, 2013 which would have seen Chief Henry Joseph and Councillor Mathew Ernie Joseph lose their seats.
The pair were recalled in what has been an ongoing dispute since an election in September of 2011.
The first recall and by-election was held in February of 2012, but a federal judge overturned the results and Chief Henry Joseph was reinstated in September 2012.
Upon the judge’s recommendations, the band made changes to their custom election code and held another recall and by-election on April 18 of this year.
In this more recent election, Yekooche band members elected Allan Joseph as chief and Miranda Joseph as a new councillor.
While Yekooche band employees and protesters were calling for Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) to step in and recognize the new chief and councillor, AANDC said there isn’t anything for them to do.
“Because Yekooche First Nation’s custom code process is outside of the electoral provisions of the Indian Act, the department has no role to play as to how the community’s leadership is selected or how governance disputes are resolved,” said Susan Cuthbert in a short email responding to an interview request.
“The information AANDC has received regarding an amendment to the community code, a community recall process and subsequent by-election in the Yekooche First Nation is the subject of dispute within the community,” said Cuthbert. “AANDC has asked that the First Nation work towards a resolution that will provide clarity as to the elected leaders in the community.”
Due to the continued disagreement amongst the elected officials, the band has not been able to achieve a quorum to sign their funding agreement with AANDC, leaving the band also without transfer payments to fund their operations.
The current recorded leaders of the community are: Chief Henry Joseph, and Councillors Angelica Rose Joseph, Mathew Joseph and Mitchell Joseph, according to AANDC.
The impasse is ongoing.
The Caledonia Courier has not been able to contact Chief Henry Joseph since finding out about the dispute. If anyone has information on how Joseph can be contacted, please call 996-8482.