‘Silencing Opposition’

It’s bad enough that so many aboriginal reserve residents are being cheated and bullied by their Chiefs and councils. Now, Chiefs are trying to use Canadian courts to silence criticism of their conduct. Here are 2 examples:

“The Chiniki Band – part of Stoney Nakoda ‘First Nation’ {Morley, Alberta} – is warning Nakoda members not to voice their opinions on social media, or be sued. On Sept. 25, Rachel Snow, a Wesley Band member, said she was delivered a letter to “cease and desist” making defamatory comments online. 

We are advised that you have published and disseminated statements about Chief Aaron Young (the “Chief), his family and Council of the ‘Nation’ (“Council”) on the social media site Facebook”,
the letter reads.

“The letter stated that Snow allegedly posted 

entirely inaccurate, defamatory and libelous allegations designed to damage the Chief, his family and council’s reputation within the community by depicting them as deceitful.”

“It then warned Snow that if she does not “immediately cease and desist the conduct described above”, the counsel writing on behalf of the Band will seek instruction from Chiniki council on commencing litigation against Snow. She was also told to delete all prior posts dubbed slanderous. 

Chief Aaron Young (Chiniki)

“However, Snow said she didn’t make any direct comments using names online.

I didn’t delete anything”,
Snow said.
If the Chiniki Chief and his family took it upon himself to get offended, then either they have a guilty conscience or they’re looking at that comment as being directed towards them.”

“The letter comes in the midst of a controversial land designation referendum – set for a second vote on Oct. 18 – which potentially could see 3,000 hectares of reserve land commercialized. Snow has been vocal on her opposition of the designation since it first came to a vote (rejected by the community) last February.

It’s basically a scare tactic or like a tactic to stop the oppositional comments. But oppositional comments are necessary because we need to have a critical analysis of what is happening with this land designation. We’re asking questions because we want answers”,
Snow said.

“Snow said she was hand-delivered the letter at her home.

I was just having my first coffee trying to wake up and I looked at it and I actually laughed when I saw the first few lines”,
Snow said.

“The Cochrane Eagle did not find any posts directly referring to an individual but did see a post referring to council in general which was posted on Sept. 19 and reads:

Wow, something’s going on, like our people’s second vote on the land designation. If it only benefits council, why do it?

“The Cochrane Eagle reached out multiple times to Chiniki councillor and spokesperson, Jordie Mark. He replied he would not comment on the letter as it is a legal matter. When asked what comments were made by Snow in particular that warranted the letter, there was no response.

“It isn’t the first time the Chiniki Band has sought legal action against an outspoken ‘Nation’ member. Greg Twoyoungmen was served earlier this year. This time, though, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit include all 15 elected officials from the Wesley, Chiniki and Bearspaw bands, who are seeking $20,000 in damages.

“Twoyoungmen circulated a petition to end the three-chief system currently in place and also made comments on Facebook that described the land designation as a “land grab”.

“He also criticized ‘Nation’ leaders using inflammatory adjectives.”

–‘Chiniki threatens to sue Stoney Nakoda First Nation resident for social media comments’,
AMY TUCKER, Cochrane Eagle, OCT. 4, 2018

https://www.cochraneeagle.com/article/stoney-council-sues-nation-members-for-social-media-comments-20181004

COMMENT: “What kind of a chief would sue their own members? It’s time to have a re- election and vote him out. Chiefs think they’re untouchable and think they can do what they want to members, and use Band lawyers to go against ppl that vote them in. If he takes you to court, make sure he pays his own lawyer from his own monies and not the Band monies.”

Another Tribal Crisis — Stoney Nakoda ‘First Nation’ (Nathan Godfrey-CBC)

“An outspoken critic from the Stoney Nakoda ‘First Nation’ {‘nations’ of 5,667 people (2017), including Bearspaw ‘First Nation’, {a ‘nation’ of 2,042 people}, Chiniki ‘First Nation’, {a ‘nation’ of 1,800 people}, and Wesley ‘First Nation’, {a ‘nation’ of 1,825 people} is being sued for defamation by the Stoney Tribal Council for a Facebook post and a document he posted in the administration building critical of his elected leaders.

“According to the statement of claim, Greg Twoyoungmen posted a comment in a Facebook group on Jan. 25 critical of an upcoming land referendum held on Feb. 15.
In the post, he described the referendum as a “land grab” that would allegedly benefit elected officials and described the tribal council as a “tribal mafia”. In the post, he also alleged that the three elected chiefs earn three per cent of the profits made at the Stoney Nakoda Resort and Casino.

“The lawsuit goes on to state that Twoyoungmen posted a document on Feb. 13 on a bulletin board and other public spaces within the Stoney Tribal Administration building that was false and malicious, including describing the tribal council as “mostly illiterate”, “greedy” and “tyrannical”.

“Nothing in the statement of claim has been proven in court.

“The plaintiffs in the lawsuit include all 15 elected officials from the Wesley, Chiniki and Bearspaw bands and they are seeking $20,000 in damages.

The only thing I can say is that the statement of claim speaks for itself, otherwise we have no other comment because it’s now been filed and it will be in the courts”,
said Ken Christensen, acting Band administrator.

“Twoyoungmen welcomed the lawsuit and said he intends to file a statement of defence in the coming days.

This gives us a perfect venue to expose them”,
said Twoyoungmen.

“He said he believes the lawsuit is in retaliation for a petition he circulated earlier in the year calling for the suspension of the reserve’s three-chief system.

They figure that if they can intimidate me they’ll get rid of me, but this only angered me.

“In January, a grassroots group called the Concerned Citizens Committee, which he is a part of, began circulating a petition calling on the federal government to temporarily suspend the ‘nation’s three-chief electoral system.

“The petition was addressed to Carolyn Bennett, minister of aboriginal affairs and northern development, and called on the federal government to uphold the results of a referendum held nearly 45 years ago that should have united the Bearspaw, Chiniki and Wesley bands under one chief and council.

“Documents obtained by the Outlook indicate on Dec. 13, 1973, 225 electors voted in favour of a one-chief system; however, those results were only briefly upheld. Instead, through a series of political maneuvers four decades ago, the three-chief electoral system was reinstated and persists today as the Stoney Nakoda Tribal Council.

“Twoyoungmen, who is a former Wesley band councillor, blames the current three-chief system for a lot of the challenges his community faces. One of his major concerns is the soaring costs to pay for three chiefs and 12 councillors, as well as the four administrations running the reserve.

“According to the reserve’s consolidated financial statements, last year the Stoney Nakoda ‘First Nation’ {‘aboriginal community’} spent approximately $2.9 million on salaries and expenses for its elected officials, and $13.9 million on Band government.

“Its largest expenditure was $30.4 million dollars in an undefined line item called “other expenses”. The line item is nearly double what was forecast and was the largest annual expense in the budget – ahead of housing at $23.6 million and education at $17.7 million.”

–‘Stoney Tribal Council suing outspoken critic’,
ROCKY MOUNTAIN OUTLOOK, APR. 12, 2018

https://www.rmoutlook.com/article/stoney-tribal-council-suing-outspoken-critic-20180412

“According to our ‘oral history’, we were the “primary” people. All other people were “secondary”. When certain situations arose, those among the “secondary” that were considered enemies…were to be wiped out by whatever means necessary. Historically, we are also called by the more formidable name of…“Head Decapitators”.

“The mere mention of the name…issued a warning to the warring enemies of what was to transpire…”

–‘Rocky Mountain Nakoda – Who We Are’,
http://www.rockymountainnakoda.com/who-we-are
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