Fort Good Hope chief — who council declared as 'resigned' — says he left town for his own safety

·3 min read
Tommy Kakfwi, left, sits at the Sahtu Dene Council table at the Dene National Assembly being held at the Wiliideh site near Yellowknife. Kakfwi says the community supports him as their leader. (Avery Zingel/CBC - image credit)
Tommy Kakfwi, left, sits at the Sahtu Dene Council table at the Dene National Assembly being held at the Wiliideh site near Yellowknife. Kakfwi says the community supports him as their leader. (Avery Zingel/CBC - image credit)

Some of the leadership in Fort Good Hope, N.W.T., is in disagreement over whether the chief still holds his position.

Tommy Kakfwi was elected chief of Fort Good Hope one year ago, but a letter posted to a community bulletin board and signed by sub chief Lucy Jackson, said he's been removed — at least for now.

According to the July 15 letter, Kakfwi has been removed for missing three consecutive regular council meetings and Jackson has assumed his role and responsibilities.

When reached by phone, Jackson said she didn't want to be interviewed on the subject and said what happened is between Kakfwi and the community. But she said as of Monday, he is no longer the community's chief and he must meet with the people of Fort Good Hope.

But Kakfwi, who talked to CBC News at the Dene National Assembly underway near Yellowknife, said he remains chief, and that he may get a lawyer to deal with the situation.

"I received phone calls from members of the community indicating that I am still their chief," he said.

In the letter posted to a community bulletin board — and written on Charter Community of K'asho Got'ine letterhead — Kakfwi triggered an automatic resignation under charter bylaws by missing the meetings.

But Kakfwi said he had to leave Fort Good Hope before a community meeting last week for his own safety after he was threatened, and his truck damaged.

Kakfwi said the threats came after a list of names of alleged drug dealers in the community was posted in a public space. The list is not signed. Kakfwi said there is a rumour he was the one who posted the list, but he denies ever doing so and says he doesn't know why people think it was him.

He said the situation turned hostile just before a community meeting scheduled for July 13.

He said he was receiving numerous threats and someone rammed into his truck and damaged it on the same day.

Kakfwi left 'reluctantly'

RCMP spokesperson Matt Halstead said in an email that police at the Fort Good Hope detachment are investigating a motor vehicle collision from July 13, but would not provide any further details and said the nature of the event is still under investigation.

Kakfwi said as a result of the threats he was advised to leave the community, and did so, first heading to Norman Wells and then onto Yellowknife for the Dene National Assembly.

"A series of events occurred, staff members saw the hostility that was directed at me and for my safety they proceeded to transport me out of the community, which I did reluctantly," Kakfwi said.

He said he advised the SAO that he would not be at the community meetings for the time being, and was surprised to see the letter stating he is no longer chief.

Kakfwi said he'll be returning the community on Friday and plans to hold a public meeting next week to deal with the situation.

Alleged violations

The letter that alleges Kakfwi is no longer chief alleges he violated various bylaws.

One of which being that "any council member who is absent from three consecutive regular meetings of council, without permission from council granted by a majority vote at a meeting of council, shall be deemed to have resigned. Permission for a council member to be absent from a regular meeting of council shall not be unreasonable denied."

CBC News has not seen a schedule of regular meetings of council.

Other sections it alleges that he violated, includes conducting oneself in a "spirit of collegiality and respect for the collective decisions of the council."

The letter states Kakfwi has until July 29 to address the allegations.

The letter said a copy would be sent to Dene Nation to inform "them of your change in position and your representation there."

On Monday, Kakfwi still sat at the Sahu Dene Council table at the Dene Nation Annual Assembly.

Kakfwi won the election for chief last year with 85 votes, narrowly defeating incumbent Daniel Masuzumi who had 83.

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