Band Asking Court to Dismiss Election Call

Friday, January 09, 2004 at 15:37



Lawyers representing the Black Lake First Nation have filed an appeal to the Federal Court of Canada over a new election that has been ordered for next week.


Incumbent chief Victor Echodh argues that the band assembly in late November that ordered the new election was invalid because there are no provisions under the band custom election code to appoint a new chief electoral officer on the spot, as is what happened on November 28th.


He contends that Rita Benoanie — who abruptly left that meeting — is the rightful returning officer for the band, and not Eileen Bruno, who was appointed to that position at the meeting and subsequently ordered the new election.


The band’s election last January was appealed by two failed candidates for chief.


In a notice of appeal, they allege band funds were used to fly in off-reserve members for their votes.


But Echodh says it was one of his rivals that authorized that charter flight, and says he has a letter signed by the owner of the airline to back that claim.


An Indian Affairs spokesman has previously stated that the department is satisfied the appeal process was followed correctly and is prepared to recognize the results of the January 14th election.