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Band council says protestors interfering with important work

Postponed elections now planned for early October
Hagwilget Members blocking access to Administration offices. (Submitted photo)

A group of Hagwilget First Nation members blockading the first nation’s administration offices is preventing vital work from taking place, says a press release from the chief councillor and council.

That work includes preparations for an election in early October after a scheduled vote was postponed because of the pandemic, the release added. Also affected is a fire emergency preparedness plan.

“Plywood was installed, blocking entrances to the building, denying entry by band council and staff arriving to work. Representatives of the blockaders have submitted demands to council, and have also communicated they will deny access for business on behalf of Hagwilget Indian Band members,” the release continued.

“Council is prepared to arrange for the services of a neutral third party to facilitate discussions as soon as practical.”

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The council did acknowledge the pandemic has affected people but that essential services are being provided.

That includes work on the sewage system and work on the community’s sewage lagoon requiring the installation of safety systems to enable repairs and re-design of the lagoon’s aerator system, the council indicated.

“Council continues to be committed to working towards transparent and accountable government, and to this end has operated under a governance policy ratified and implemented in April 2020,” the release stated.

“The policy was scheduled to be released to members, to begin the bylaw process. This includes the creation of a membership comprised of governance and finance committees.

“Obtaining membership’s input and recommendations to the policy, and bylaw status will ensure all future chief and council are bound by the governance policy. This work is also being disrupted by the blockade.”

The release said the election postponement was done according to the Indian Act and that the delay is not to the maximum allowed under the Indian Act.

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“Council discussions were held and processing of the documents to trigger an election in early October is scheduled for the next duly convened meeting of the council,” the release stated.

While there are preparations for an election, the band council has hired the accounting firm of KPMG to do a financial audit from 2010 to 2019.

That audit will be released but only to band members.

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Administration offices blocked in Hagwilget. (Submitted photo)