The membership of K’atlodeeche First Nation (KFN) have rejected proposals on how to disperse a $28.3-million settlement for a benefit in Treaty 8.
The official vote count – released Sept. 18 – was 144 against ratification and 137 in favour.
The referendum was originally held on Sept. 5, and the initial results were 135 against and 132 in favour.
However, there was an appeal to count 19 mail-in ballots that had originally been rejected because of incomplete or inaccurate voter identification accompanying the ballots.
“Upon appeal, the electoral officer sought an independent legal opinion and, based on that opinion and the authority granted to her, determined that 14 of the 19 ballots were eligible to be counted,” stated a Sept. 18 news release from KFN.
Those 14 mail-in ballots were opened and counted on Sept. 18 at a public event.
“Based on these results, the K’atlodeeche First Nation Chief and Council have decided to leave the matter of a payment and trust agreement to the next Chief and Council, who will be voted into office on November 6th, 2018,” stated the news release.
Under the defeated arrangement, a $15,000 payment would have been made to each band member, and an $18-million trust fund would have been established.
“It’s quite disappointing,” said Chief Roy Fabian of the results of the ratification vote.
Fabian added most band members wanted more money for individual payments, noting a motion for a $27,000 individual payment had been passed at a band membership meeting.
“What we voted on Sept. 5 was recommended by the working group,” he said. “The working group felt that $15,000 was fair and it made certain recommendations on how to use the rest of the trust.”
Fabian said he also thought $15,000 was a fair number for individual payments.
Doug Lamalice, a vocal opponent of the proposal, was pleased the membership voted no.
“I feel the community is finally being heard when it was finally no,” he said. “The bottom line was we agreed on $27,000. That’s what the community voted on.”
Lamalice said that, if that had been the number in the ratification vote, the result would have been a yes.
“It would have been a done deal by now,” he said.
Lamalice agrees there is not enough time to hold another referendum in the term of the current chief and council before elections on Nov. 6.
Last year, KFN members voted overwhelmingly to accept the $28.3-million settlement with the federal government under the so-called cows and plows section of Treaty 8.
In the treaty, Canada promised to provide the Hay River Indian Band – now KFN – with agricultural benefits, including farming tools, equipment and animals, once a reserve was established. The Hay River Reserve was established in 1974, but agricultural benefits were not provided.