Suspended chief of Selkirk First Nation asks courts to reinstate him

·2 min read
Darin Isaac in Pelly Crossing, Yukon. Isaac says he has been unlawfully suspended as chief of the Selkirk First Nation. (Submitted by Darin Isaac - image credit)
Darin Isaac in Pelly Crossing, Yukon. Isaac says he has been unlawfully suspended as chief of the Selkirk First Nation. (Submitted by Darin Isaac - image credit)

The elected chief of the Selkirk First Nation says he has been unlawfully suspended from his duties and is asking the Yukon Supreme Court to reinstate him.

Darin Isaac filed a petition on Nov. 22 asking the court to quash his suspension.

He told CBC council had no legal basis to suspend him, since the First Nation does not have any recall legislation.

"I want to make sure that things like this don't happen in the future," he said.

Isaac was elected as chief in May 2020. According to the petition, the council had "significant disagreements" in its first year, especially over Selkirk's economic development priorities.

Isaac declined to discuss why the council suspended him, but the petition references a series of events starting in February 2021.

The petition states councillors discussed restructuring the Selkirk Development Corporation during a Feb. 12 meeting, resulting in a "political deadlock within council."

"The meeting became contentious and council was unable to reach consensus and come to a decision," the petition states.

The petition states Isaac turned to alcohol to deal with his frustration and stress for several days after that meeting, breaking a year-long abstention from drinking.

He then called a meeting of the Elders Council on Feb. 23 to seek their advice, during which they suggested he take steps to improve his mental and physical wellness.

Immediately after that, Selkirk councillors effectively suspended him by cutting off his email access, directing staff not to speak with him and denying him access to Selkirk's offices, not inviting him to council meetings or sharing meeting minutes with him and rejecting his attempts to meet with council, according to the petition.

But there's nothing in the First Nation's constitution that allows them to suspend a chief, he says. He hopes to push the First Nation to rewrite its constitution.

"I think that that's our next endeavour, is to build a stronger and better government. I think something better will come out of this."

The Selkirk First Nation did not comment on the case, but says it will file a defence.

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