A Court of Queen’s Bench judge ruled that a Saskatchewan political organization has improperly removed two directors, representing a First Nation wanting to resign from that organization.

On September 9, 2019 the Big River First Nation passed a Band Council Resolution that would it submit its resignation from the Agency Chiefs Tribal Council only after meeting two financial conditions.

A copy of that letter was forwarded to Ken Thomas, Chief Executive Officer for Agency Chiefs Tribal Council, by email, without comment.

The First Nation in October held an election and the new Council in November reaffirmed its resignation position.

Yet the Agency Chiefs Tribal Council’s view is that Big River effectively resigned and that the First Nation could not resign its membership subject to conditions.

The Agency Chiefs Tribal Council removed Big River’s two directors effective September 9, 2019.

In court, Big River argued that it still maintains a membership until its resignation conditions are met and that the letter submitted to the Agency Chiefs Tribal Council was only to inform its intent to withdraw its membership.

Justice J. McCreary ruled Big River did not resign and that Agency Chiefs Tribal Council acted in an oppressive nature by removing Big River’s two directors from the organization.

“I agree with Big River First Nation that it is entitled to make its resignation from Agency Chiefs Tribal Council conditional and effective when conditions are met,” McCreary wrote.

“In this case, Big River First Nation has specified that its resignation is effective at the date the two conditions it has stipulated are met. In essence, it has stipulated that its resignation is effective at a specified future date. As these conditions have not yet been realized, Big River First Nation has not resigned its membership in Agency Chiefs Tribal Council.”

As well, McCreary is allowing Big River to name its two directors to the Agency Chiefs Tribal Council.

“By removing Big River First Nation’s directors from Agency Chiefs Tribal Council’s board of directors and by treating Big River First Nation as having unconditionally resigned its membership in Agency Chiefs Tribal Council, Agency Chiefs Tribal Council has effectively and unilaterally terminated Big River First Nation’s portion of control in the corporation. Its actions have deprived Big River First Nation of its rights as a member,” explained McCreary.

“This conduct severely upsets the balance of power that previously existed between the Member Nations in their governance of Agency Chiefs Tribal Council. It is therefore burdensome, harsh and is a marked departure from fair standards of dealing. In short, the conduct is oppressive.”

Chief Jack Rayne and Council Member Robert Rabbitskin have been court appointed directors to represent the Big River First Nation.