The federal government is responding to the sexual assault conviction and imprisonment of a First Nations chief.

This week a judge in Carlyle sentenced Pheasant Rump First Nation Chief Terrance McArthur to nine months in jail for the sexual assault of a 16-year-old girl.

It’s not known yet if Chief McArthur will appeal the sentence.

No one from the Pheasant Rump band office was immediately available to comment on what this means for the band.

The Aboriginal Affairs department says Pheasant Rump is under its own band election code, so any moves regarding leadership will likely have to come from the First Nation.

However, a press secretary for Aboriginal Affairs minister Bernard Valcourt calls the conviction a terrible crime.

In an email, Erica Meekes says the department’s thoughts are with the victim and her family.

She adds the Canadian government is committed to putting an end to the sexual exploitation of children and it urges community members to report all criminal activity to the police.