Fort Good Hope chief – who council declared ‘resigned’ – says he left town for his own safety
Some leaders in Fort Good Hope, Northwest Territories, disagree on whether the chief still holds office.
Tommy Kakfwi was elected chief of Fort Good Hope a year ago, but a letter posted on a community bulletin board and signed by Deputy Chief Lucy Jackson said he had been removed from his position – at least for now.
According to the July 15 letter, Kakfwi was removed from office for missing three consecutive regular board meetings and Jackson assumed his role and responsibilities.
When reached by phone, Jackson said she did not want to be interviewed on the subject and said what happened was between Kakfwi and the community. But she said as of Monday he is no longer the community leader and is due to meet with the residents of Fort Good Hope.
But Kakfwi, who spoke to CBC News at the ongoing Dene National Assembly near Yellowknife, said he remains chief and may hire a lawyer to handle the situation.
“I have received phone calls from members of the community indicating that I am still their leader,” he said.
In the letter posted on a community bulletin board — and written on K’asho Got’ine chartered community letterhead — Kakfwi triggered an automatic resignation under charter bylaws by missing meetings.
But Kakfwi said he had to leave Fort Good Hope ahead of 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 suspected drug dealers in the community was posted in a public area. The list is unsigned. Kakfwi said there was a rumor that 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 received many threats and someone rammed his truck and damaged it the same day.
Kakfwi left « reluctantly »
RCMP spokesman Matt Halstead said in an email that Fort Good Hope Detachment police had been investigating a motor vehicle collision since July 13, but would not provide any further details and said the nature of the event was still under investigation.
Kakfwi said that following the threats he was advised to leave the community and did so, heading first to Norman Wells and then to Yellowknife for the Dene National Assembly.
“A series of events occurred, staff members saw the hostility 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 had informed the SAO that he would not be attending community meetings at this time and was surprised to see the letter stating that he was no longer chief.
Kakfwi said he will return to the community on Friday and plans to hold a public meeting next week to address the situation.
The letter which alleges that Kakfwi is no longer chief alleges that he violated various regulations.
One of them being that “any member of the council who is absent from three consecutive regular meetings of the council, without permission of the council granted by a majority vote at a meeting of the council, shall be deemed to have resigned. Permission for a member of the council to be absent from a regular meeting of the council shall not be unreasonably refused.”
CBC News has not seen a schedule of regular board meetings.
Other articles he alleges he violated include conducting himself in a « spirit of collegiality and respect for the collective decisions of the board. »
The letter says Kakfwi has until July 29 to respond to the allegations.
The letter said a copy would be sent to the Dene Nation advising them « of your change in position and your representation there. »
On Monday, Kakfwi was still sitting at the Sahu Dene Council table during the Dene Nation’s Annual Assembly.
Kakfwi won the leader’s election last year with 85 votes, narrowly beating incumbent Daniel Masuzumi who had 83.