Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation has removed Chief Terry Nelson for the third time since 2007, and this time it looks as though it might stick: The five-term chief may opt not to run if a by-election is held.
"If there is a credible candidate to support.... I may not run again," Nelson told the Winnipeg Sun. He had initially said he would try to win back his seat.
The ouster was made by the band’s custom council after a no-confidence vote, seven months into Nelson’s term. The council has butted heads with Nelson for years, the Winnipeg Free Press said. The custom council is a group comprised of the heads of families, put in place 20 years ago to perform a watchdog function on the chief and band council, according to the Winnipeg Sun.
The band’s four-member council, elected along with Nelson in March 2011, is still intact, the Winnipeg Free Press reported. The council named Gary Roberts, its longest-serving councilor, as interim chief.
The Canadian government, although not involved in the internal affairs of this Ojibwa First Nation, said it had been notified of the leadership change.
"On September 21, the department received information from the Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation custom council regarding the composition of the First Nation's chief and council and updated its files accordingly, recording the removal of Terrance Nelson as chief," said Ellen Funk of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada's office in Winnipeg, the Winnipeg Free Press reported.
Nelson suspects that his ouster stems from a difference of opinion on how best to utilize housing funds from its July land-claims settlement, which netted a total of $80 million for a claim dating back to 1903.