Federal Court


Aboriginal Peoples

SELF-GOVERNMENT
Chief not provided with opportunity to address concerns before his suspension was decided

Application for judicial review of resolution adopted by Band Council of respondent First Nation on June 8, 2012, whereby it was decided that applicant chief was not to represent views of Band Council, that his pay and allowance be suspended, and that he be denied access to offices, equipment, e-mail and phones. Reason for sanctions was alleged to have been letter sent by Chief to Prime Minister and Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada without the approval of Band Council. Letter highlighted, among other things, mishandling of money by Band Council. Application granted. Decision of Band Council to suspend chief and to strip him of his remuneration, his powers and access to his office until he accepted conditions imposed upon him was unreasonable and went beyond powers granted to Band Council by s. 84 of First Nation’s Election Policy. While one may disagree with tone of his letter, it could not reasonably be said that chief did not perform his responsibilities and leadership by calling for police investigation. There were certainly enough credible allegations of wrongdoing to raise legitimate concerns. Band Council also breached procedural fairness by suspending chief. Chief was not provided with any meaningful opportunity to address concerns of Band Council before his suspension was decided. Band Council resolution suspending chief was quashed, and First Nation was ordered to pay chief remuneration and other benefits he should have been allowed for period between June 11, 2012, and end of his term of elected office.

Tsetta v. Band Council of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation (Apr. 29, 2014, F.C., Yves de Montigny J., File No. T-1922-12) 240 A.C.W.S. (3d) 526.

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