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Blood Tribe chapter holds forums in advance of Nov. 22 election of Band Council

The Council of Canadians Blood Tribe chapter held an “election forum for a responsible Blood Tribe Chief and Council” last night at the Senator Gladstone Hall on the Blood Reserve.

The Blood Reserve is located about 60 kilometres southwest of Lethbridge.

The topics discussed at the election forum were: “Governance, Blood Tribe Financial Situation, Blood Tribe Agricultural Project (BTAP) Audit, Education & Employment, Agriculture Impact on Blood Tribe Members, Blood Tribe Election Issues, Economic Growth & Opportunities.”

The chapter also held a “community discussion” on Sunday (October 30). That meeting focused on “decolonizing Blood Tribe system”.

Pam Palmater has explained, “Under the Indian Act, 1985, Indian bands are governed by a system of Chief and Council. Approximately 252 First Nations elect their Chief and Council according to the election provisions of the Indian Act. There are 333 First Nations that have chosen to opt out the Indian Act election provisions and have developed their own rules – often referred to as custom election codes. For those bands who follow the Indian Act rules, Chief and Council are elected by a majority of votes of the electors (those entitled to vote) of the band. For those that have their own custom codes, there may not be any elections at all (for example, there may be hereditary chiefs).”

Earlier this week, Global News reported, “Tuesday [November 1] marks nomination day for Blood Tribe chief and council. The nomination process starts at 4 p.m. and goes until 7 p.m. It is held at the Kainai Multi-Purpose Centre in Stand Off, Alta. Candidates need to bring the person who is nominating them and a seconder. Every candidate will have to be verified and then a final list will be completed by Nov. 8.” And the Lethbridge Herald adds, “Members will go to the polls at Standoff and Lethbridge n Nov. 22 to elect a chief and council to serve the next four years. Historically, there is usually a list of nearly 100 men and women seeking election.”

The Blood Tribe chapter has been raising concerns about the salaries and accountability of their band council.

The Globe and Mail has reported, “The chief of Alberta’s Blood Tribe, along with a dozen councillors, collectively received more than $2-million in compensation and travel expenses in the past fiscal year – a figure a handful of band members, including former political leaders, argue is inappropriate. Blood Tribe Chief Charles Weasel Head’s total remuneration and expenses amounted to $133,130 in the fiscal year, the lowest on council. Councillor Frank Black Plume’s total, after adding in travel expenses and the other forms of compensation, was $210,982, the highest on council.”

That article highlights, “Harley Frank, a former Blood Tribe chief, wants the band’s leaders to explain the expenses and be more transparent. ‘The salaries should match the governance structure’, Mr. Frank said, arguing it ‘doesn’t make sense’ that the politicians are paid more than $90,000 to govern an on-reserve population of about 7,000. ‘If you’re getting paid that kind of money, I expect tremendous results’, he said. ‘And then you have people who are living hand to mouth.'”

Blood Tribe chapter activist Lois Frank has previously commented, “The Blood Tribe’s chief and 12 council members make a combined salary of $1.2 million, even though the average income for members of the Blood Tribe is $16,389. That’s less than a tenth of what their leaders take for salary and expenses. While many band members don’t have enough gas money to go to a doctor’s appointment, the leadership is spending nearly $1 million on travel.”

The Blood Tribe chapter was formed in November 2015.

Further reading
Blood Tribe chapter seeks transparent and accountable band council governance (September 19, 2016)