Protesters who have been sitting in the Seine River First Nation band office since last Monday have now been locked out of the front of the building.
Three of the band’s councillors and their supporters have been sitting in the band office demanding the resignation of Chief John Kabatay and interim band manager George Broeffle.
But now, said Coun. Andrew Johnson, they’re confined to the common room at the rear of the building after Chief Kabatay changed the padlock on the main door of the office, preventing the protesters—and staff—from entering the front area.
“He’s the one who’s barricading the office now,” charged Coun. Johnson. “No one can get in there.”
Chief Kabatay still cannot be reached for comment despite repeated attempts by the Times.
Meanwhile, Coun. Johnson said he has contacted officials at the federal Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development seeking a meeting of council with a ministry rep in attendance.
“They said a response is pending. We want to restore the rule of law to the decision-making process of our First Nation,” said Coun. Johnson.
Chief Kabatay had called for a general band meeting last Friday but the three protesting councillors refused to attend—and said any decisions made there would be void because there wasn’t a quorum.
In the meantime, Couns. Johnson, Norm Girrard, and Lila Blackjack and their supporters continue to protest in front of the band office and sit in the common room until their demands are addressed.
“We are awaiting answers from the justice department of the Department of Indian Affairs on an interim forensic audit, declaration of vacancy of the chief’s position, and the termination of the interim band manager,” said Coun. Johnson.
“We are also seeking peace bonds from the death threats and ensuring a safe work place,” he added.
Seine River First Nation has been struggling with violence, drugs, and alcohol even though officially it’s been a dry reserve for 15 years.
“We continue, we’re trying to stress the corruption and injustice that is done to others,” said one protester who asked to remain anonymous.
“We will continue until we’re heard because no one is really listening,” the protester said. “No one will say the truth. There has been corruption in our community for years—it hasn’t just started with the occupation.”