'I am the chief of Fort Good Hope,' says Tommy Kakfwi, who was ousted by council last month

·2 min read
Tommy Kakfwi at the Sahtu Secretariat Assembly in Norman Wells this week. Kakfwi was elected as chief of the Kasho Gotine Band in Fort Good Hope, N.W.T., in July 2021. Last month, council said he triggered an automatic resignation after failing to attend several meetings. (Sidney Cohen/CBC - image credit)
Tommy Kakfwi at the Sahtu Secretariat Assembly in Norman Wells this week. Kakfwi was elected as chief of the Kasho Gotine Band in Fort Good Hope, N.W.T., in July 2021. Last month, council said he triggered an automatic resignation after failing to attend several meetings. (Sidney Cohen/CBC - image credit)

A dispute over who is chief of the K'asho Got'ine Community Council in Fort Good Hope, N.W.T., still appears to be ongoing.

Tommy Kakfwi was elected in July 2021, but last month, the band's council removed him from the position after he failed to attend several meetings.

But Kakfwi says he had to leave the community for safety reasons and that he still holds the position. On Wednesday, he took time during the Sahtu Assembly in Norman Wells, N.W.T., to state his position.

"Let me set the record straight," Kakfwi said, "I am the chief of Fort Good Hope."

Sitting just a few chairs down, Lucy Jackson, told the assembly earlier that she is the chief.

The dispute started earlier this summer with a letter posted to a bulletin board in the community, written on Charter Community of K'asho Got'ine letterhead, which listed the names of alleged drug dealers in the community.

Kakfwi said there was a rumour he was the one who posted the list, but he denied doing so.

He said the situation turned hostile just before a community meeting scheduled for July 13. He said he received numerous threats, and someone rammed into his truck and damaged it on that same day.

Kakfwi said he left town for his own safety.

"Because of my age and living alone, I was very vulnerable. And I was flown out of the community," he said.

'Like a nice sheet of paper that's been crumpled'

After he missed several meetings, the band council removed him as chief, saying his repeated absences went against their bylaws, but Kakfwi says those absences were justified.

"During my absence, [the council] made it appear that I abandoned the community deliberately," he said.

"I am still the chief elected. That was accepted by everybody over a year ago and I will carry on my duties. I didn't do anything wrong."

He said he's getting advice on how to proceed.

"I'm trying to avoid any legal proceedings," Kakfwi said, "but we'll see what stems from here."

That said, Kakfwi thinks the "damage has been done" in terms of community unity.

"The community is currently separated. It's like a nice sheet of paper that's been crumpled. I can't return it to its original state."

Public to decide, says Jackson

Meanwhile, Jackson says she was appointed interim chief after Kakfwi's removal, and that's why she introduced herself at the assembly this week.

She said the community is planning a meeting, possibly set to happen at the end of the month, to decide what to do about the controversy.

"I think the community and the council want to do it in a fair way … a healthy way," Jackson said.

"The people have to decide."