Algonquin Nation in Quebec faces political crisis - APTN NewsAPTN News

Algonquin Nation in Quebec faces political crisis

Tom Fennario
An Algonquin community in Quebec is facing a political crisis that may force a new band election.

“People are not happy with the leadership in the community,” said Velma Stanger, a member of the Timiskaming First Nation.

Stanger has 193 signatures on a petition calling for a vote.

According to the band’s election code, that’s enough for a new election.

Stanger said 53 per cent of the community has signed her petition, but there’s a problem.

Nobody has the records of who voted in the last election – only that 364 ballots were cast.

According to the electoral officer, all the records from the last election were destroyed.

“We needed that list in order to visit all the people who voted,” said Stanger.

Velma Stanger of the Timiskaming First Nation in Quebec. Photo: Tom Fennario/APTN

The petition states that by signing, signees confirm that they voted.

But the band council said that’s not enough.

They asked community members to come sign the same petition again at council, this time as a sworn legal statement, or affidavit.

“We left it open for a month for people to come in and sign,” said Chief Wayne McKenzie.

“Like I said, we weren’t against the petition, we’re letting people have their freedom of speech and freedom to do as they want to do, nobody signed that petition.”

McKenzie said that many people who signed the petition were misled by Stanger.

And the petition itself is retaliation for the band council doing its job.

“The only reason they’re doing it is to try to save HRSD, the corporation on the reserve,” he said.

McKenzie is referring to the Algonquin Nation Human Resources and Sustainable Development Corporation.

ANHRSD is mandated to help train Algonquin in employment skills.

McKenzie said when he asked for justification for certain expenses, they refused.

“They came out swinging when we started asking about this, and then they throw this petition,” he said.

As the director for ANHRSD, Stanger said the expenses have been explained to council.

She added that the petition is born out of community frustration.

Conrad Polson is a former chief. He said he doesn’t like where the council is heading.

“My concern is the impacts on our children and grandchildren,” he told APTN News. “Those are going to be the ones footing the bill for the next little while.”

Polson pointed to the looming sale of Steve’s Gas Bar as an example.

He said there’s something fishy about council wanting to buy a gas station from one of it’s councillors for $350,000.

Polson said he thinks the money spent buying and fixing the gas station can be better spent.

“If you do the math, we could build a couple of gas stations, maybe even a little mall,” he said.

McKenzie agreed the station is a fixer upper, but counters that it is profitable and in an excellent location.

“We’re not going to get into a deal unless all the environmental studies are done, feasibility studies business plan, if it’s not feasible, we’re not going to get into it,” McKenzie said.

Nearly a year after the petition was submitted, the petitioners have called for an election on April 21.

“I’m just hoping that we get a lot of people out to vote, because that will say…that message will be a good one to the chief and council here that maybe it’s time to go,” said Stanger.

McKenzie said the current council will not recognize any election.

He said according to the code, only the council can call an election.

And they have no intention to do so before the end of its current mandate in 2020.


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4 Responses to “Algonquin Nation in Quebec faces political crisis”

    Annon April 22, 2018 at 6:37 am #

    42% of the people who signed the petition showed up to vote in this bogus illegal election!

    169 of over 600 eligible voters showed up at the poles!

    Provincial injunctions handed down to HRSD.

    I sure hope APTN does a follow up story!

    Tina Chevrier April 11, 2018 at 7:41 pm #

    After watching the video and reading the article, three questions come to mind 1) Why would a Council ever expect a Band Member to enter their building to sign an affidavit that could potentially be used as a document to support the call for a new election? Do they not realize that members may feel intimidated or identified as potentially being against the Council? Why would they not allow for this affidavit to be signed in a neutral location in the presence of a third party. What was Council’s motivation for “controlling” the process? 2) Why would an elected Councillor ever consider selling their personal business to the Band during their political term? This is a conflict of interest and there should be policies in place to prevent this from even being considered. Transparency should always be a top priority. If you want to conduct personal business with the Band then in good conscience leave your position as Councillor or wait until your mandate is over. 3) Only the current Council can call an election according to their election code?? Seriously, in all honesty, will they ever call an an election that could potentially remove them from their positions? I think not and they will continue to use this “rule” to protect themselves from what the community wants.

    Karen April 11, 2018 at 3:58 pm #

    The membership of the nation is the power. Chief and Council have adopted the government system that believes it has the final decision making, using legalistic language as a shield against indigenous peoples own knowledge system of knowing, doing and being. Gather as many people that encourage the right decisions for the people that are marginalized by Chief and Council and the band office, and go in warrior style and put your moccasins down! Strength in numbers…. get the people together for what’s right, not legal.

    Conrad April 11, 2018 at 1:45 pm #

    $350,000 is only the purchase to the band councillor. The cost of renovations as was explained to our community members was approximately 2.2 million dollars. Including 10% deposit from our community.
    As for HRSD. One councillor was working with HRSD and she viewed C & C was personally attacking the Director because she was following policy. The councillor is also said she sees no benefits to the community sending our HRSD out of the community.