Federal Court

Aboriginal Peoples

Council failed to give applicants notice of intended vote

In 1991, subject First Nation decided to become self-governing and established two governing bodies, one made up of elected chief and four councilors and another, respondent council, made up of representative from each family. In May 2014, council passed motion removing applicants, chief and three of four councilors, from office. Applicants obtained injunction and council rescinded motion. Council then sent letters demanding applicants submit budget, with details of salaries and expenditures, for approval, and attend meeting. Applicants submitted lengthy information package. At meeting, even after receiving confirmation that injunction remained in effect, council passed motion and resolution removing applicants from office. Council then issued notice of and proceeded with by-election. Applicants applied for judicial review, seeking order quashing decision to remove them and declaration by-election null and void. Application allowed. Evidence from those who attended meeting indicated that quorum of ten had not been present for removal vote. Fact that resolution signed by more members of council next day irrelevant. Evidence also indicated that council had failed to give applicants any notice of intended vote or specific allegations against them. That constituted breach of principles of natural justice. While s. 14 of First Nation’s Election Act (Can.), provided authority to remove elected chief and councilors, it conferred that authority on all members of First Nation, not just council. Section 15 of Act required council to support chief and councilors in execution of duties, but did not give power to remove them.

Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation v. Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation Custom Council (Dec. 16, 2014, F.C., Sandra J. Simpson J., File No. T-1210-14) 248 A.C.W.S. (3d) 738.

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