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APRIL 29, 2009                                                                         UPDATED: MAY 1

Mediation falls flat

Day-long mediation in Ottawa between the Temagami First Nation's two elected councils failed to produce an agreement yesterday. The councils have been locked in a battle for supremacy since October.

The Potts council, which controls the band's purse strings, proposed to finish its term and pay the legal costs of the Ayotte council.

"We're not going to compromise our government," said Peter McKenzie, second chief in the Potts council

The Ayotte council proposed both councils resign and run in a new election and both sides accept the outcome.

"They feel they are the strongest [in support] in the community," said Chief Roxane Ayotte. "So why are they afraid to face an election?"

Judge Hughes of the Federal Court of Canada last week had urged these talks, hoping a resolution would avoid the second hearing on May 13 and a court-imposed resolution.

The division in the community runs deep. McKenzie expressed it too well. "I'm at a point where I don't trust anybody, even our own membership."

The judge may not appreciate how deep. But his solution proposes a top-down decision and ignores a bottom-up. Why not ask the community to decide? Why should such an important decision be made by a small group?

That is one admirable — and enviable — trait of the TFN: it can call a people's assembly, hold a community discussion and make a binding decision in a matter of weeks.

If the judge wants to avoid the lawyers' solution, he should encourage, and give the opportunity to, the nation to exercise its strength.

APRIL 29, 2009

Docks taken out by ice

"No ice action Tuesday," reports Gerry Gooderham on Lake Temagami, "but lots of docks were destroyed by ice pushed in the winds on Monday."

APRIL 28, 2009

Court hearing on Potts' impeachment

Both Temagami First Nation councils have requested a judicial hearing on the March 29 impeachment of Chief Gary Potts.

Yesterday's Federal Court hearing on the June 12 election and its backlash will reserve its decision until after the impeachment hearing on May 13.

The parties informed the judge in the Ottawa courtroom, held in the imposing Supreme Court building, that today they would hold mediated discussions.

The judge privately had pressed this upon counsel for chiefs Ayotte and Potts, and stressed it three times during the hearing. He cautioned, “It is always better than anything lawyers can impose.”

RELATED STORIES: Three Elections, Two Chiefs, One Quagmire

                              First Nation court date set  

                              First Nation chief and council impeached

                              Indian Affairs' contradicts policy

                              TFN council stripped of authority

                              First Nation votes to oust Chief Potts

                              Potts council beleaguered

Photo: ice break-up, Lake Temagami, 2009
Photo: ice break-up, Lake Temagami, 2009

Photos: Gerry Gooderham

                      April 27 — Ogama Island, Lake Temagami

APRIL 28, 2009

Ogama Island ice-out notes by Gerry Gooderham

LAKE TEMAGAMI — On Friday April 24, the ice at the landing was quite mushy feeling, but my wife Sue made it in by sled [snowmachine].
On Saturday April 25, I made my last snowmobile trip as the ice was too far from shore on the island to travel out.
On Sunday April 26, took sleds off the ice.
On Monday April 27, Sue took the airboat out in the morning. At 9:30 a.m., the winds came up and by 10:30 our annual spring golf fun, the Temagami Open, was canceled due to moving ice The wind hit 60 kilometres per hour. By 5 o'clock the ice had moved about four to six feet from the south and it is about 12" thick.


APRIL 16, 2009

Break-up rolls northward

Break-up approaches Temagami as warm air rolls north. This satellite image reveals the transition from ice-free lakes in Muskoka (near Lake Simcoe) to frozen lakes in Temagami and north.  


APRIL 11, 2009

First signs of ice-out

Spring has been teasing us since the second week of March when the temperature occasionally slipped above freezing during the day.

Most days since hovered near zero, give or take a few degrees.

Open water, right now, is largely limited to the usual early gaps with moving water, like the Temagami, Ottawa (upstream and downstream of Timiskaming) and French rivers, the narrows on Lake Timiskaming and the mouths of rivers, like the Sturgeon on Lake Nipissing.

Follow our ice-out watch.


APRIL 3, 2009                                                

Potts council beleaguered

The past week revealed widening cracks in the governance of Chief Gary Potts, who refuses to relinquish his office.

Last week's byelection of two councillors was captured by supporters of the Ayotte council. Roxane Ayotte was elected chief in October after Potts ignored irregularities in his own June 12 election and binding decisions of the tribal assembly, the supreme governing body of the First Nation.

This is the first time the two camps have fought in the same election. Potts and his council boycotted the last in October. The votes predictably went overwhelming 137 to 44 for Ayotte.

  Byelection Results    


    Allan Marquette   70  

Elected, Ayotte supporter

    Doug McKenzie 67  

Elected, Ayotte supporter

    Jennifer Potts Paul 24  

Potts supporter

    Christine Cameron 15  

Potts supporter

    Jesse Paul 5  

Potts supporter

On Sunday, as previously reported, Potts, the 2 remaining June 12 councillors and the second chief were impeached.

Monday saw supporters of both camps crowding into the band offices as the Ayotte council arrived to notify the Department of Indian Affairs Canada and the bank of the impeachment results and the tribal resolution passing power to the Ayotte council.

Members of the OPP's Aboriginal Relations Team (ART), who are unarmed, plainclothes officers that act as liaison between the community and the police, arrived and remained all week. ART officers had been present during previous tensions since June.

Supporters of both camps stayed all night. Potts supporters left the next day and Ayotte supporters continued their sit-in, and intend to remain all weekend.

On Tuesday at the offices, two or three women in the Potts camp allegedly assaulted two elderly women in the Ayotte camp. Both went to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries. Bear Island Police say they are investigating, but no charges have been laid.

INAC stuck with its position that it does not acknowledge councils nor does it interfere in customary law elections, as practiced by the Temagami First Nation. Custom law elections follow rules made by a First Nation, rather than those in the Indian Act.

The bank backed away from its support of the Potts council, notifying staff and councillors with existing signing authority that they could be personally accountable for cheques they sign. But the bank did not revoke their privileges or change the authority to new signatories as requested by Chief Ayotte.

On Thursday, the band office closed early and it did not open today. There is no explanation available at this time. If services to the community continue to be disrupted, INAC will be compelled to bring in third-party management and assume the fiscal duties of Chief and Council.

The protestors continue to have access into the building through the library and are maintaining their sit-in.

It was a bad week for Potts.


RELATED STORIES: Three Elections, Two Chiefs, One Quagmire

                              First Nation court date set  

                              First Nation chief and council impeached

                              Indian Affairs' contradicts policy

                              TFN council stripped of authority

                              First Nation votes to oust Chief Potts

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