Original Published April 15, 2022
South Peace News
As far as protests go, it is hard to image any other being more peaceful and respectful.
However, it does not mean some members of Driftpile Cree Nation do not want change, and they are prepared to protest for a long time.
About 15 residents gathered at the gazebo in front of the band office April 7 to present their lists of concerns to chief and council as well as raise awareness of issues.
April Isadore was asked to lead the group at the request of Elders and band members. Several meetings have been held the last four years with virtually no attendance from chief and council. At the heart of the matter is some band members feel they have no idea what is going on in regard to band affairs, including band-owned businesses.
“The lack of communication from leadership to its members,” says Isadore.
Issues include the lack of minutes from meetings, who works where, how money is being spent, and the financial position of the band and its businesses regarding, as Isadore says, “big money’ decisions. Concerns over the election code regarding the term of council and number of councillors are also important to the group.
Isadore and six others including five Elders met with band leadership April 6 to discuss issues.
Elder Roger Okimaw drew up the original election code for the band in 1996. He says regarding accountability that the band should be having a general meeting with membership every two months.
Driftpile Chief Dwayne Laboucan is open to the idea but disputes the degree council is accused of not being open and transparent.
“Driftpile has always been that way [open] but like everyone else, COVID hit us and stopped public functions in the last two years,” he says.
“But now things are slowly opening up and we are looking forward to having meetings and back on track,” he adds.
Isadore disagrees with the statement saying band leadership has promised meetings for years.
Regarding the election code, which each band can determine themselves, council is asking for a three-year term instead of two, and to decrease the number of councillors to eight from nine.
Laboucan says council supports the three-year term but adds the proposal is not written in stone and the band membership will have its say.
“We have a draft. . .waiting on preapproval so once it’s approved and there aren’t any legal issues that can come up, we are going to present to the people a draft and if they like it, hopefully do a vote on the Custom Election Code as soon as possible and get it in place for our next election in December 2022.”
Another concern for the group is they want a change in the election code to include the selection of an electoral officer.
The group is prepared to continue protesting and fighting for change.
“We will continue until we get what we want,” vows Isadore.
Nominations for the next election occur in November with the election in December.
This item reprinted with permission from South Peace News, High Prairie, Alberta