Some Teslin Tlingit Council citizens are preparing to protest their government again.
“We’re ready to put the tent back up again,” said Tod Smarch, one of the organizers of a protest last month.
Some citizens want to be able to vote for their chief executive officer in a democratic way. Right now, the Teslin Tlingit Council is the only First Nation in Yukon that still elects its leader based on a traditional clan model. Each of the First Nation’s five clans appoints five people to sit on a general council. The 25 then pick the chief.
If the decision cannot be made by consensus, it goes to a vote. If none of the candidates take 60 per cent of the votes, another ballot is held with the candidate who received the least amount of votes removed. There were five rounds of voting in last fall’s election. Carl Sidney eventually beat incumbent Peter Johnston by five votes.
Electoral reform wasn’t addressed at this week’s general council meetings, said Smarch. And the council still hasn’t met its promises to create more housing and more management jobs for First Nation members, he said.
After last month’s protest, a community meeting was scheduled for March 7, but it was cancelled, said Smarch. The council organized a meeting for March 18, but the protesters boycotted it.
They didn’t agree with the forum’s rules, said Smarch. This included limiting their speaking time to five minutes and refraining from bringing up personal concerns.
These rules made it harder for them to talk about their problems, said Smarch. These meetings are just a “token,” he said.
The general council budget is set to be revealed later this month, the Teslin Tlingit Council website says. There is also a review of the council’s leadership selection process underway.
Chief Carl Sidney did not return a call for an interview before press time.
Inmate ends hunger strike
An inmate at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre has ended his hunger strike and is in hospital.
Mark McDiarmid began refusing solid food in late October to protest the quality of food in the jail and the cold temperatures in his cell. On Thursday, he asked to be moved from the jail to Whitehorse General Hospital, his mother Brandy Maude said. His strike lasted 151 days.
McDiarmid is in custody on numerous charges, including two counts of assaulting a police officer with a weapon and two counts of attempted murder of a police officer.
He has survived mainly on juice, tea and honey, said Maude. But elders have been bringing him fish broth in the last five weeks, and he has eaten nori, a thin seaweed used to make sushi, since November, she said.
Her son is healthy, she said, although he has lost about 80 pounds during the strike. His weight dropped from 205 pounds to 125 pounds, she said.
Before going to the hospital, he was in the prison’s confinement area. Originally, he chose to be in the area, Dan Cable with Justice said last month. He was kept there because it would be dangerous for his health if he started eating solid food without careful medical supervision.
It’s not clear how long McDiarmid will be in the hospital, said Maude. But she’s happy her son decided to end the strike. He needs to focus on his upcoming court case. McDiarmid is representing himself.