The elected chief of the Selkirk First Nation has launched a legal petition seeking an end to measures taken by the First Nation’s council that he says has effectively suspended him from his duties.
The petition, filed by Chief Darin Isaac on Nov. 22, seeks a declaration that the First Nation’s actions were unlawful and court orders quashing a decision to suspend him from office and restoring his duties in the First Nation’s government.
Isaac was elected for a third term as chief in April 2020 for a term expected to last until April 2023. His petition notes that he is a residential school survivor recovering from the effects of abuse trauma and alcohol addiction.
According to his petition he has been effectively barred from conducting his role as the elected chief because he is being denied access to his official email account and the Selkirk First Nations offices; he says he is also not being invited to council meetings or being provided minutes from them.
The petition states that Isaac’s effective removal from his role as chief began with a council meeting in February 2021.
“The council elected in April of 2020 had a number of significant disagreements during its first year, particularly with respect to Selkirk’s economic development priorities,” it reads.
According to Isaac’s petition the difficulties came to a head at a Feb. 23 meeting that he says resulted in a political deadlock. The statement of claim says that following the difficult meeting, Isaac dealt with his frustration and stress by using alcohol for several days. He says he had abstained from drinking for a year prior to this and had a history of long periods of sobriety with occasional relapses.
On Feb. 23, the Selkirk First Nation’s Elders Council met at Isaac’s request. According to the court petition Isaac expressed frustration with the deadlock on council and admitted to drinking. The petition says some of the elders suggested that Isaac take steps to improve his physical and mental health and a resolution was passed with recommendations for a wellness plan for the chief.
Isaac’s petition states that he has worked with elder advisors to develop a wellness plan and has been following it. He has also made numerous requests to be included in council meetings and allowed access to the First Nation’s office and his email account and electronic calendar.
It also says the elders’ resolution does not contain any provisions that suspend Isaac or restrict him from exercising his duties as the elected chief. The petition also contends that the Selkirk constitution does not provide authority to the council or the elder’s council to suspend a member of council. It also states that none of Selkirk’s governing documents prohibit drinking by elected officials or community members.
The petition states that in an April 27 letter the council communicated that Isaac would be effectively restricted from exercising substantive duties as chief until he complied with the resolution passed by the elders council. Following a June elder’s council meeting, Isaac says the elders were presented with four possible options for his future as chief including requesting his resignation, reinstating him, convening a special assembly of the Selkirk people or bringing in an independent mentor to help resolve the matter. Isaac says the elder’s council has not met to discuss the matter since June.
Isaac’s petition has not been heard or ruled on in court.
Contact Jim Elliot at firstname.lastname@example.org