Burns Lake Band back to business

For the previous two weeks, disaffected members of the Burns Lake Band had been holding a sit-in protest at the administration offices.

Graffiti covers the fence that runs along the Burns Lake Band reservation. The fence has been used before  to speak out against opposing parties. Although some band members feel the RCMP used too much force to remove protesters

Graffiti covers the fence that runs along the Burns Lake Band reservation. The fence has been used before to speak out against opposing parties. Although some band members feel the RCMP used too much force to remove protesters

The Burns Lake Band (BLB) offices re-opened for regular business on April 8, 2013. The Little Angels Daycare, which had been closed the previous Friday after it was discovered that emergency exits had been blocked, was reopened on April 9.

As reported by Lakes District News on April 7, 2013, a large contingent of RCMP officers from detachments across the region had surrounded the Burns Lake Band administration offices, located in the old high school just east of the current Lakes District Secondary School.

An RCMP spokesperson said they were on hand to assist with the return of control of band offices to the Burns Lake Band council.

For the previous two weeks, disaffected members of the Burns Lake Band had been holding a sit-in protest at the administration offices. Prior to the occupying protest, a petition had been delivered by BLB councillor Ron Charlie to Chief Albert Gerow and councillor Dan George demanding their immediate resignation and an investigation by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) into council and band business.

Gerow said that it had been a tense week around the office since the RCMP were brought in. On the recommendation of the RCMP, round-the-clock security has been hired for the band offices.

In response to criticism that the number of RCMP brought in to secure the building was excessive considering the small number of people eventually found within the building – four adults and three youth – Gerow said that tactical decisions were not his to make, but that he was satisfied that the RCMP had performed their duties professionally.

“We didn’t know how many people were going to be in the band office at the time,” Gerow said. “The other element that needed to be taken into consideration is the sheer size of the building. It’s over 37,000 square feet with four wings.”

Since the re-opening of band offices, counc. Charlie has been removed from his position as eduction and youth administrator.

Gerow declined to further comment on the situation with counc. Charlie as the matter is being handled by lawyers. Despite the reopening of band offices, some protesting BLB members continue a social media campaign to draw attention to their concerns.

As reported previously, AANDC has not reported any concerns with regular audits of BLB finance and program operations under Gerow’s leadership.