Shackan Indian Band

Positive Community, Self Sufficient, Healthy Lifestyle

October 12, 2022  - [HAND DELIVERED/VIA EMAIL] - Percy Joe

Dear Percy:

Re: Application for Removal of Chief - Election Code Issues

We are writing to you in your capacity as spokesperson for the removal application. We are writing this letter for three reasons.

The first of these is to explain to all Shackan Indian Band members what happened at the September 28th General Band Meeting {GBM). A copy of this letter will also be posted on our website, at our administration office and at the Band Hall so that all members are properly informed about the application process that has been commenced.

Second, we want to explain to the meeting attendees the process for removal applications under the Election Code so there is no misunderstanding about that process. We will also address the motions that were proposed and passed by the Band members who attended the GBM.

September 28, 2022 Meeting

A GBM was held on September 28, 2022 to discuss the financial statements provided by our accountants for the past two fiscal years. Near the end of the Agenda items, several members brought forward a new item that was not on the Agenda. The topic was an application for removal of our Chief submitted by Percy Joe pursuant to the Shackan Band Election Code. The Chief was asked to leave the meeting which he did.

Band members then proposed and passed two resolutions. The first was a direction for Council to hire OneFeather to act in the place of a Band Manager in the handling of the application (as we are currently without a Band Manager). The second called for the suspension of the Chief and Lenora Starr effective immediately until the arbitrator concluded the arbitration process triggered by the removal application. Council had no prior notice that this topic was going to be raised at this meeting. Accordingly, we did not have the opportunity to consider whether these motions complied with our Election Code until after the meeting was over. This raises a concern for us.

Process for Removal

The Election Code specifies that the application package gets delivered to the Band Manager. We do not have a Band Manager right now, so we have discussed hiring OneFeather to perform that role. This is one option, but there may be others. OneFeather is based in Victoria and there are responsibilities that will require someone to attend at our offices. Hiring OneFeather (or someone else), will involve a cost to our Band. Accordingly, we have decided to obtain some quotes (including from OneFeather) and then select a third party to act in the role of Band Manager to handle the removal application.

The Code says that once the application is delivered to the Band Manager, the Band Manager must:

  1. Work with Council to select an arbitrator to hear the application;
  2. Provide the arbitrator (once selected) and all Council members with a copy of all documents related to the application; and
  3. Post a notice of the application, a summary of the grounds on which it is based, and information about how voters may view the documents relating to the application.

The documents are required to be available for viewing by voters in the following locations:

  1. In a public area of the Band Administration building;
  2. On the Band's website; and
  3. In one other conspicuous place on any reserve where Band members ordinarily reside.

Voters living off-reserve also have a right to see these documents. The Band Manager must mail the documents to off-reserve members, along with information about how those members can view the application and documents relating to it.

The Band Manager is also required to verify that the petition meets the requirements of our Election Code. It must be signed by at least 15% of all voters. The Band Manager must confirm that the names of everyone on the petition are also on our voters list and that the signatures have met the 15% threshold specified in our Election Code. This requires the Band Manager to review the list of voters (on-and off-reserve) and contact them to ensure they signed the petition.

Our Code provides that the documents relating to the application can be "redacted" as necessary to comply with applicable privacy legislation. "Redacting" refers to the "whiting out" of information on those documents to prevent it from being seen. Privacy legislation prevents the disclosure of personal information about individuals, such as telephone numbers, addresses, or membership numbers. The names of the individuals who signed the application are not "private information", nor are the grounds upon which the Chief's removal is being sought. All Band members have a right to see this information.

Our Election Code gives the Chief the opportunity of responding to the application. The Chief can submit his own documents for the arbitrator to consider. Then a hearing will be held, at which time Percy Joe and the Chief will have the opportunity to speak directly to the arbitrator. They can also ask other people to speak in support.

This is an open and fair process. We will post the arbitrator's decision for all to see.

Motion Regarding Suspensions of Chief Lampreau and Lenora Starr

This motion was passed by a vote of 17 Band members who called for the suspension of our Chief and his partner, Lenora Starr, Community Wellness Manager/Membership Clerk, immediately until the arbitration process has been completed. Both suspensions were stated to be based on a concern about the security of documents in the Band office. We assume this refers to membership documents.

Membership information is maintained by ISC. It is not possible for anyone to make any decisions or alterations impacting the membership information as those responsibilities are ISC's final decision. It is ISC that decides who becomes a member and who does not, so there is simply no risk that anyone could manipulate our membership documentation, even if they wanted to. We have no indication that anyone wants to do so or has attempted to do so.

We have reviewed our Election Code carefully. It does not contain any process by which a member of Council can be suspended. As Councillors, we are not prepared to act in violation of our Election Code. Doing so would open the way for us to also be removed from office.

Members do not have the power to make administrative decisions respecting our employees. As a practical matter, Lenora is one of only four employees currently working at the administration office. If she were suspended, we would be down by two employees at our admin office and we are already missing a Band Manager. We are concerned at the reduction in service to membership that would be caused if she were suspended.

We are not prepared to carry out any suspensions at this time and will be rescinding those done at the last GBM.

Moving Forward

Council is currently looking at the costs and options for moving this process forward and is committed to doing so as quickly as possible.

We intend to proceed fairly, openly, and in compliance with our Election Code. This is the right way forward.

Yours truly,