Montreal Lake Elder threatened with eviction after taking political stand

By Bryan Eneas
January 23, 2018 - 4:19pm Updated: January 24, 2018 - 2:29pm

The house numbered '2010' in the Montreal Lake Cree Nation (MLCN) is swirling in controversy.

Alphonse Bird, spoke on behalf of his 68-year-old aunt Nellie Bird. He said house 2010 has belonged to her for the last 30 to 40 years and now it might be taken away from her for supporting a general election call in the MLCN.

“She believes in the process of democracy and the ability to be able to vote for leadership,” Bird said. “She had opened her house to follow the process that was set out by the Election Act.”

Nellie received a letter on Jan. 17 from the Cree Nation’s housing authority stating if she continued to support the general election she could be evicted from her residence. She has allowed her home to be used for a nomination meeting and as a polling station.

“She’s angered in some way about [being] threatened to be evicted... she said ‘if they want to evict me, well, I’ll stay outside,’” Alphonse said.

Alphonse said he feels Montreal Lake’s recently acclaimed chief is behind the letter issued to his aunt.

The saga of Montreal Lake begins with two men who both claim to be chief. A general election was called for by Edward Henderson, who has argued he is the chief of the Cree Nation. Montreal Lake’s acclaimed chief Frank Roberts has previously said the call for a general election would not be funded, nor recognized by his administration. The letter Nellie received also said chief and council find the election to be unlawful and “without due process.”

Alphonse said the eviction of an Elder for taking part in political activities is something he’s never heard of in his 30 years in band politics or even as an electoral officer. He hoped for his aunt's sake, and the sake of the community, the drama surrounding the Cree Nation ends soon. 

“It hurts us to see our community in the news all the time about the question of leadership in our community. We’re proud of our community; we’re proud of our nation. We’ve had many people who are out there helping not only our community, but also other areas,” Alphonse said.

Staff could also face disciplinary action

A letter sent to paNOW dated Jan. 3 from Band Manager Irma Murdoch to “MLCN staff” and two security personnel outlined why chief and council felt the general election process was flawed.

“The calling of this general election was not done by quorum of council, at a duly convened meeting of council. The chief and council do not consider this general election to be a legitimate process,” the letter read.

It further states no one is allowed to use the MLCN band facilities for “activities related to this ‘unauthorized’ general election;” anyone who does not comply may face disciplinary action.

When asked to comment on both the letter to Nellie Bird and MLCN employees, acclaimed chief Roberts said he would not comment until after an appeal tribunal released a decision regarding his election.

General Election still moving ahead

Andrew Douglas, who’s been named as Chief Electoral Officer for the general election scheduled for Jan. 30, said he has not received any legal documentation calling for an end to the vote.

His plans for both the nomination meeting and polling station at House 2010 are still in place.

“I haven’t changed the time or date of anything,” Douglas said. “This is the people’s right to vote.”

According to the information sheet, nomination meetings were hosted in Prince Albert and Little Red River. Advanced polls are scheduled to open on Jan. 26 at the Prince Albert Indian Metis Friendship Centre and the Ramada Inn’s Harvest Room in Saskatoon.

General polls open on Jan. 30 at house 2010 in Montreal Lake, the Little Red River band office, the Prince Albert Indian Metis Friendship Centre and the Ramada Inn’s Harvest Room in Saskatoon at 9 a.m.

 

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