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Wahta Men’s Fire shuts down Band Council Office

WAHTA MOHAWK TERRITORY – Members of the Wahta Men’s Fire alongside community members and elders initiated a protest in front of the Administration Office on the morning of Tuesday May 6th, 2014 to voice their displeasure with the decisions of the recently elected Council. As a result, there is no access to the Wahta Mohawk Administration Office and it has been shut down indefinitely.

WAHTA MOHAWK TERRITORY – Members of the Wahta Men’s Fire alongside community members and elders initiated a protest in front of the Administration Office on the morning of Tuesday May 6th, 2014 to voice their displeasure with the decisions of the recently elected Council. As a result, there is no access to the Wahta Mohawk Administration Office and it has been shut down indefinitely. 

Two Row Times spoke with Wahta on-reserve member Karihwakeron Tim Thompson who told us that the same group of people have been on Council for most of the last 25 years, except for a brief three-year period over the previous council term. In that period a number of important initiatives were taken up, including the development of Administration Code and Financial Management Code to ensure transparency and accountability from elected Council. These codes were developed through a participatory process that worked to ensure input from a wide swath of community members.

According to Karihwakeron the incoming Council has stated that they will not abide by the Administration or Financial Management Codes. “What do you do when your government refuses to follow its own laws? What can the people do to make sure that they do that? That’s been our dilemma,” stated Karihwakeron. He also told us that the incoming Council has put any initiative developed in the past 3 years under review, “Everything from the nursing station that we put up to serve our community to the Mohawk language program, which we’ve now been told has been cancelled.” According to the press release, a daycare facility that had been opened has already been converted into an office.

There were previous attempts to resolve the dispute but community members were left feeling unsatisfied. In their press release the Wahta Men’s Fire stated that they felt that they felt compelled to carry out this protest after feeling demeaned by the members of elected Council in public meetings.

Two Row Times also spoke with elected Chief Phillip Franks, who at the time of writing had not yet read the statement put out by the Men’s Fire but did suggest that the elected Council is interested in dialogue with those protesting outside the Administration Office. He also stated that the elected Council wants to review and conduct further consultation on the Administration or Financial Management Codes.

Karihwakeron informed us that, “There’s a groundswell of support from community members to make sure council follows our community laws.” Community members have been showing up to provide support and have donated food and water to those gathered in front of the Administration Office.

Karihwakeron finished by saying, “I think it’s going to be a moment to rally our people around. Now the hard part comes, what will it take to restore… our laws?”

An official statement was released by the Men’s Fire of Wahta this evening and reads as follows:

 For Immediate Release

 May 6, 2014

WAHTA MOHAWK TERRITORY – The Wahta Men’s Fire is announcing the temporary closure of the Wahta Mohawk Administration Office.

On March 15, 2014 members of a cartel who have run our community for most of the past twenty-five years returned to power. Their first decision announced publicly was to more than double thier daily honorarium to $300. Their second decision was to announce that they would not follow the laws our community put in place over the past three years for transparent governance and accountable financial administration. The Council has said that any initiative put in place over the past three years is under review. The Mohawk language program has already been cancelled, and the daycare facility has been turned into a Council office.

The Wahta Mohawk Administration Code and Financial Code were developed and ratified by community members through the exercise of participatory democracy. Among other things, the Administration Code ensures the separation of Council political decision making from Administrative program issues. The new council has taken over all of the Administrative functions. There are no longer any checks and balances. All Administrative decisions, such as hiring and firing, tendering of contracts, and allocation of program funds, are now subject to political taint. Rather than accountability and transparency, the cartel has re-instituted practices based on cronyism and nepotism.

We will be releasing evidence for public consumption.

Community members have been demeaned by the Council in public meetings and public communication to the broader membership. We have learned that these behaviours act as cover for cronyism. We will stand for it no longer. There are a few options available to us to force the Council to follow the laws of the people except the will of the people. The Administration office will renin closed until further notice.

We call on all residents of Wahta to let your voices be heard. Let us put an and to cronyism. It is time for transparency. It is time for accountability. The truth must come out so we can begin to move forward.

-30-

For more information on this developing story follow The Two Row Times on twitter @tworowtimes or Karihwakeron’s twitter feed @okwarikowa.

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34 Comments

  • only the truth
    May 7, 2014, 11:03 pm

    David aka davie stock is a known and convicted pedophile ….why is his name being brought up in any type of representation of wahta..and why is he so concerned with the daycare ??How others can associate and stand beside such a cold ,disgusting individual is beyond the citizens of wahta…Always remember BIRD OF A FEATHER FLOCK TOGETHER!!

    REPLY
  • Kristan Sahanatien
    May 7, 2014, 3:14 pm

    In the interest of fairness

    I am a member living in the community at Wahta Territory and want to say that the
    information in correspondence being circulated by the group calling itself “The
    Wahta Men’s Fire” has a lot of errors, omissions and stretching of the truth.

    The current Chief and Council were elected by a notable majority of the people to
    make change from the direction that the past Council had taken without adequate
    participation of the membership and for failing to follow the enacted laws of
    the community.

    The past Council refused to follow the Wahta Mohawk Election Regulations to hold a
    bi-election for the vacant seat of the Chief against many appeals from the
    community to do so for over two years.
    The Wahta citizens upon being continuously ignored finally exhausted all
    other avenues to be heard took the next step as provided under Wahta election
    regulations and presented a petition to Council to remove them from office for
    loss of confidence of the people for failing to call the bi-election. A two year confrontation with the community resulted in Court proceedings and an election was finally called at the end of
    their term. This resulted in exorbitant legal fees for both parties and has created a
    huge divide between the community and the past Council and their supporters.

    The election March 15, 2014 spoke volumes about who the community trusts to move
    forward. The new Council has inherited this untenable legacy which created
    fear, anger and hatred that has permeated and divided the Wahta Mohawk
    organization (the staff) and the community.

    Since the election the members of the Wahta Menes Fire (members of the past Council
    and their unsuccessful candidate for Chief) have undertaken a strategic
    concerted effort to cause chaos and confusion in the administration office, at
    community meetings and with outside affiliated organizations (including letter
    writing campaigns) on a regular basis.
    They have taken positions against Council and decision of Council that
    do not represent the members of Wahta.

    The community is currently deeply divided.
    The failure of the past Council to follow the community laws and call a
    bi-election anytime over that two year period would have avoided the problem
    this community is experiencing today.
    The current Council was elected to make change and they are following
    the wishes of the community. This Chief and Council have identified these diametrically opposed viewpoints as the source of the problem today and have been trying to find ways to resolve the
    conflict between all parties so the community can begin to heal and move
    forward together. The decisions of the past Council, their legal advisor and the electoral officer further compounded the problems by the perceived failure to run a fair election process. Allegations have been made legally and these ssues are still outstanding and the possibility of further legal actions
    attributed to that issue still hangs over the community. Meeting the demands of a vocal group and
    attempting to right the wrongs of the past are huge undertakings in any first
    nation community. That is the case here at Wahta.

    The balancing act of being supportive and carrying out the mandate given by the
    people while dealing with the unresolved issues of the past Council have put
    this Council in a no win situation.
    Making everyone feel like they have been heard and then making the best
    decisions for the community as they are elected to do is difficult at the best
    of times. This is the worst of times. I think if the community wants to recover from this feeling of loss of power and control and equal representation then the outstanding issues will have to be
    determined by a third party independent mediator.

    The recently formed Wahta Men’s Fire holds itself out to be the Voice of the People
    but truthfully it represents a small portion of the full membership and their
    convoluted view of the issues they have raised.
    They have offered no alternatives to their demands and the community
    will not be held hostage to a small group who wrongfully asserts its
    responsibility for the members of Wahta Mohawks and uses an adversarial
    approach meant to discredit and demean the work of this Council. The majority of the members of Wahta Mohawkssupport the decisions and work of this Chief and Council.

    A Concerned Citizen of Wahta

    REPLY
    • Pentortoise@Kristan Sahanatien
      May 7, 2014, 3:35 pm

      Quik question for you Kristan, Are you a Canadian?

      REPLY
      • Kristan Sahanatien@Pentortoise
        May 7, 2014, 3:38 pm

        I am a Mohawk citizen of Wahta Mohawks, and yes, I am a Canadian.

        REPLY
        • Mick Thomas@Kristan Sahanatien
          May 7, 2014, 3:46 pm

          Wrong! If ur a member of the Haudenosaunee Iroquois Nation ur not Canadian! Know ur history!!

          REPLY
        • Kristan Sahanatien@Mick Thomas
          May 7, 2014, 3:50 pm

          Actually I never said I was Haudenosaunee, I said I was a Mohawk member of Wahta Mohawks.

          REPLY
        • Tsi Nikayen' Enonhne'@Kristan Sahanatien
          May 10, 2014, 7:02 am

          Mohawks are Haudenosaunee, If you choose loyalty to Canada then you forfeit your citizenship.

          REPLY
        • Pentortoise@Kristan Sahanatien
          May 8, 2014, 12:52 pm

          Canadians Who become citizens of other nations cease to be Canadian citizens. Its kinda complicated, but as a Canadian Citizen, it conflicts with citizenship of the mohawk citizenship.

          also its against the law (Kaianerekowa) according to wampum 58

          REPLY
        • Pentortoise@Pentortoise
          May 8, 2014, 12:57 pm

          i’m not sure how this would apply to the individual (Mohawk) nations, but as members to the Great Peace, this should apply to all those who claim to be a functioning part of the mohawk society and separate from canada.

          This “wampum” is a safe guard, which prevents people from joining another nations and being able to sign away the rights of those who remain.

          REPLY
        • Tsi Nikayen' Enonhne'@Pentortoise
          May 10, 2014, 7:01 am

          We are the Keepers of the Eastern Door. The Great Law cannot be enforced without our agreement.

          REPLY
        • Tsi Nikayen' Enonhne'@Kristan Sahanatien
          May 10, 2014, 7:00 am

          “I am a Mohawk citizen of Wahta Mohawks, and yes, I am a Canadian.”

          Sorry dear but you can’t be Mohawk AND Canadian. The Great Law forbids it.

          REPLY
  • Frances
    May 7, 2014, 2:05 am

    Misinformation is rampant in this article. As a friend of Wahta Mohawks, I found it difficult to interpret the words quoted. I would suggest a reporter talk to those that will inherit the earth (the younger band members) whose views should/could/might/ be of significance and more easily interpreted..

    REPLY
  • Happy Citizen of Wahta
    May 7, 2014, 1:50 am

    I find there is a lot of information missing out of the above article.
    1. the daycare facility they are referring to has not been in operation in at least 15 years,
    2. The Wide sawth of community members for the codes.. It was 28 people who passed these codes out of membership of over 700.
    3.During this time of The Mens fire shut down of the administration building they have made it
    A) unusable for the community
    B) The senior had outtings that were cancelled because of this, seniors are an important part of our community.
    C), there are children who had tutoring that has been canceled because of these few people. let alone for
    D)The nursing station within the administration building, that was not accessible, to those in need or those with appointments.
    * How does that serve your community, it doesn’t.
    4.they say the Language classes have been Cancelled? they have only been postponed until the fall,

    On, another note, our council chambers and chiefs office has been in our administration building for many many years, and it wasnt until the last council term of 3 years that this was moved to another location, being in the administration office makes council and chief avalible to community all community members.

    REPLY
  • Cal White
    May 7, 2014, 12:05 am

    These are just the ramblings of a few members disgruntled at having lost the last election (in a landslide). They do not represent the majority of the people of Wahta. The last administration was corrupt beyond belief and cannot let go of the power they wielded.

    REPLY
    • Happy Citizen of Wahta@Cal White
      May 7, 2014, 2:27 am

      so true, they dont want current council to open pandoras box

      REPLY
      • Wahta Mohawk Member@Happy Citizen of Wahta
        May 7, 2014, 5:10 pm

        Actually I believe my exact words were it is time to open Pandora’s box. If you are going to steal my words use them in the correct context. Thank you!

        REPLY
        • guestjb1@Wahta Mohawk Member
          May 9, 2014, 10:28 am

          I believe Happy Citizen is saying that the protestors are protecting the Pandora’s box that the past council had created and do not want opened. And I totally agree with you that it is time to open Pandora’s box and get everything settled and dealt with then move forward and do good for the whole community.

          REPLY
        • Happy Citizen of Wahta@guestjb1
          May 10, 2014, 10:55 pm

          that is exactly what I meant, thank you for clarifying that for me,

          REPLY

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