New band for Burns Lake?

Reserve band member coalition calls for separation.

A meeting convened for Burns Lake Band (BLB) council by Chief Albert Gerow on May 29, 2013, was abandoned after Gerow and counc. Ron Charlie were unable to agree on who would be allowed to be present during the meeting. Charlie wanted to have his lawyer present, but Gerow was calling for a closed-door in camera session. Approximately 25 protesters representing many of the on-reserve members of the Burns Lake Band arrived in a show of support for Charlie whom they feel represents the best interests of band members living on-reserve.

Charlie was to table a formal band council resolution requesting that the BLB begin proceedings to draw up a separation agreement that would see on-reserve members form a community separate from the existing Burns Lake Band represented by the current chief and council.

Representatives of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development were on hand for the meeting, but were reported to have left quickly out the back door after the meeting was abandoned.

Afterwards, Charlie pointed out that this would have been the first quorum meeting of band council since October, 2012, and that he is not comfortable with having future closed door meetings with current council without legal representation present due to ongoing litigation.

“We want transparency and to be part of the process,” Charlie said.

Drumming and calls of ‘We want separation’ were peacefully maintained outside the Burns Lake Native Development Corporation office, where the meeting was to have been held.

Gerow later acknowledged that band members could call for separation, but that the process is neither quick nor simple.