SHEGUIANDAH FIRST NATION—Today (Wednesday) will mark 42 days of protest for those on the picket line on the Sheguaindah First Nation who say they will remain until the chief, Orville Aguonie, tenders his resignation.
Last Wednesday, August 29 a full meeting of chief and council was to be held at the band office council chambers. The week before, the two protesting councillors (who call themselves MECS, Majority for the Elected Councillors of Sheguiandah), Derek Assiniwe and Kevin Mishibinijima, put forward a proposed agenda for the August 29 meeting, which was not used.
When asked about the proposed agenda before the meeting was to be held, Chief Aguonie dismissed it, saying that it was not the duty of the councillors to create band agendas, adding that outside of a duly convened band council meeting, the two “have no power.”
Councillors Assiniwe and Mishibinijima claim the meeting was “shut down” when the chief accused MECS’ lawyer, who was present, of trespassing, according to a press release. “MECS’ lawyer left the meeting on the advice of the chief of the United Chiefs and Council of Manitoulin Anishnaabe Police, who was present on the request of both the protestors and the band office,” the press release continues. “Having no legal representation present, MECS refused to participate further.”
According to Chief Aguonie, the remaining members of council (himself and Councillor Jake Ago neh), waited for one hour, until 11 am, before holding a role call which deemed Councillors Assiniwe and Mishibinijima absent.
“Under the Indian Act, if you miss three meetings without an excuse, the Minister of Indian Affairs has the right to remove councillors from council,” he said. “INAC (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada) would then declare an accelerated election for those two councillors.”
Chief Aguonie said his community is missing out on band dollars because the councillors are not showing up for meetings. “No quorum, no funding,” he said.
“He has lost his legitimacy,” Councillor Mishibinijima countered. “The more people he continues to harm by punishing them, the more join our protest. Our numbers are still growing,” the release states, “even on day 37. So we have decided to take the next step, completely shut down his government. He thinks he is accountable only to himself, but he will soon learn.”
“That sounds like a threat,” the chief responded to the release, adding that it is his belief the protest encampment is actually losing support.