With a vacant urban councillor seat, PBCN hosts meeting to explain next steps in urban councillor dispute

Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation has taken action to make sure its membership understands why a recent byelection was postponed, and what could happen next.

Many unhappy Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation urban members gathered in Prince Albert on Wednesday night.

Chief Peter Beatty held the meeting to explain why their urban councillor byelection is on ice right now.

Last week, a court order to stop PBCN’s scheduled byelection was granted to ousted urban councillor Warren McCallum who is seeking a reinstatement.

Beatty told about 60 people that the band will respect the federal court order.

Not all of the urban members agree with Beatty’s approach, which comes based on advice from the band’s legal counsel.

Some believe a federal court should not have any say in who PBCN chooses to run it.

Beatty says the court will do a judicial review of how many signatures are on a petition that led to the Elder’s Council decision to remove McCallum from his position.

Essentially he says the court is making sure the removal was followed by the books of PBCN’s own 2014 Election Act, which says a petition must be signed by 25 per cent of urban membership.

He tells people that McCallum could be reinstated if the high court finds that a petition calling for his removal did not have enough signatures.

But Beatty says if this byelection is delayed for more than a few weeks, the band will push to expedite things.

He says having a vacant councillor position is costing them, and forcing other people to take on extra responsibilities.

The meeting evolved into a much wider discussion of PBCN’s issues.

One woman pointed out that urban membership will keep widening out each year, and said not all of those people are being informed or given the same opportunities as those based out of Prince Albert.

Beatty rehashed the housing and educational funding concerns he shared earlier that day with indigenous affairs minister Carolyn Bennett. She met with chiefs from across the province on Thursday.