Joseph Backs Chiefs’ Call To Reinstate Ahenakew

Tuesday, April 01, 2008 at 15:37



The head of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations says he stands behind the decision of Saskatchewan chiefs to reinstate David Ahenakew to the FSIN’s senate.


Chief Lawrence Joseph told reporters at a news conference today that Ahenakew has paid enough of a price for his anti-Semitic remarks made in



At the time, Ahenakew told a newspaper reporter that Jews were a disease.


Joseph insists many non-First Nations people have phoned him to commend the FSIN for “showing forgiveness and compassion”.


He says, “There are some who would like to see the Senator suffer forever, but only the most cruel and unforgiving person would wish to continue punishing this elderly war veteran for a mistake he made and truly regrets”.


Joseph also says the First Nations chiefs of the province have the right to run their organization in the way they see fit, and adds they have weighed their options and have put a lot of thought into this decision.


Not everyone at the FSIN thinks this is a good move.


The chairperson of the federation’s senate, former FSIN chief Roland Crowe, has handed in his resignation as senate chair over this matter.


He calls Ahenakew’s reinstatement a distraction from the real issues that need to be dealt with.


Crowe also says that contrary to what Joseph told the media, he did not vote on the reinstatement — because as chair, Crowe only votes when there is a tie.


Meanwhile, Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl has put his department’s relationship with the FSIN under review.


Strahl is also calling on the federation to reconsider its decision to reinstate Ahenakew.


Strahl also says he finds the move “disturbing” and has ordered staff in his department to avoid any dealings with the FSIN if Ahenakew is involved.


Premier Brad Wall is also criticizing the move — and says it will likely affect relations between his government and the FSIN.


The controversy surrounding Ahenakew’s reinstatement doesn’t end there.


The Star Phoenix, one of Saskatchewan’s daily newspapers, was not allowed to attend this morning’s news conference.


The newspaper was the first to report on Ahenakew’s return to the FSIN senate.


Joseph says one of the paper’s reporters was disrespectful when she went out to the Dakota Dunes Casino on Friday where the matter was discussed in a closed-door meeting.


Joseph says she harassed people who were at the casino and alleges she pushed him.


He says he will be reviewing the surveillance tape and looking at all of his options, including possibly laying charges.


(includes files from The Canadian Press)