A chief has been chosen for the embattled Tsil Kaz Koh First Nation, but the controversy over the bands leadership continues.
Last weeks byelection for chief pitted a small number of on-reserve members against a large list of members living off the Burns Lake reserve. Wes Sam won the election; he did not respond to requests for an interview.
There have been fist fights, sit-ins, mass RCMP expulsion of protesters, lawsuits, and the resignation of chief Al Gerow who immediately began a job with a pipeline company. The latest development was a white candidate entering the two-person race for chief.
That candidate, social and economic development worker Pauline Goertzen, was asked by the on-reserve faction to be their leader.
She was up against Sam, seen by the on-reserve group to be aligned with Gerow, although he has had no direct dealings with band politics for some years (he is a former elected councillor both for the band and the municipality of Burns Lake).
Goertzen said the loss was fully anticipated.
That was the whole point [of my candidacy], she said. Now people can see it for themselves. The people who live on-reserve are no longer in control of their communitys government.
The on-reserve group, about 40 people, has been calling for transparency from the elected chief and council over deals with industry, land-use decisions, and how the voters list keeps growing in favour of those already in power.
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