About 25 members of the McLeod Lake Indian Band staged a protest Friday at the courthouse plaza against the First Nation's current chief and band council.
Many were members of a blockade that had been in place at the band's office for about 12 days before RCMP moved in on June 4 after participants ignored a court-ordered injunction.
Blockade leader Justin Chingee said 16 members face charges of contempt of court and the courthouse plaza was chosen to highlight the fact that the chief and council are pursuing legal action against its own members.
Chingee said the sides were close to reaching a settlement that would have seen the charges dropped if participants agreed to not hold any more blockades, but the band council then changed its mind.
"Today, they came back and said they'd drop the charges against everybody except for me," he said. "So the deal changed. Yesterday, I presented that [previous] deal to everybody and today this new deal came forward and basically everybody just picked a position - either you charge us all or nobody."
Chingee also produced a letter stating the McLeod Lake Indian Band has opted against signing onto Enbridge's revenue sharing agreement for the Northern Gateway pipeline.
Noting it was dated June 8, four days after the blockade was disbanded, Chingee claimed the blockade prompted chief and council to back away from their original intention to sign on.
"Everything said McLeod Lake was in bed with Enbridge over the last four years and all of a sudden, after we get arrested, we get this [letter]," said Chingee.
Chief Derek Orr declined to comment on the issue because it is before the court but said Enbridge's offer was declined because it was a bad deal.
"Enbridge tried to do a template for all bands and it didn't work for us," said Orr. "They set out timelines and the benefits didn't outweigh the risks."
The protest was the latest in an ongoing skirmish with what Orr said is a small group of members representing only about five per cent of the band's population.
Among the grievances raised, the protesters said Orr is taking home $100,000 per year in salary. In response, Orr said he's making less than any of the last two chiefs of the McLeod Lake Indian Band.
There is also an ongoing concern about the band's depleted Treaty 8 trust fund. Chingee said the band and council should work harder to bring that up to an acceptable level while Orr said they're well aware of the challenges.
"We have a strategic plan and we'll be talking about this moving forward," Orr said.