Massie retains Ta’an Kwach’an Council chief title

Ruth Massie’s appointment as interim chief of the Ta’an Kwach’an Council has stood up to the test in Yukon Supreme Court.

Ruth Massie’s appointment as interim chief of the Ta’an Kwach’an Council has stood up to the test in Yukon Supreme Court.

Ta’an member Bonnie Harpe challenged Massie’s appointment in a case that went through several days of testimony in Yukon Supreme Court in December.

On Friday, Justice Ron Veale upheld the First Nation’s elders council’s decision to appoint Massie interim chief.

He also recommended the First Nation hold elections for chief and deputy chief as soon as possible, according to a Ta’an Kwach’an release.

An appeal of the decision may be on the way depending on funding, said Harpe’s lawyer Andre Roothman.

“It’s a fairly expensive exercise to go to the Court of Appeal,” said Roothman on Monday.

The appeal would cost between $25,000 to $30,000, he said.

Massie’s claim to the title came under scrutiny when Harpe challenged the validity of the elders council’s decision in August.

In started when Harpe lost the leadership bid by two votes in April 2004.

She appealed the election results to the First Nation’s judicial council, who ordered a new one be held because one of the three candidates was found ineligible.

(Sam Broeren, who received 10 fewer votes than Harpe, later conceded he had a criminal record, stated Harpe’s original claim. That made him ineligible to run under the constitution.)

The numbers were so close that, had Broeren not run, Massie could have won the election, according to court documents.

The elders council appointed Massie as interim chief until an election could be held.

Harpe’s appeal must be filed within 30 days. (LC)