A power struggle at the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) is leading to a showdown between two executive members for the position of interim chief.
Saskatoon police were called to the FSIN headquarters in Saskatoon on Monday to respond to a “disturbance” and to “keep the peace in an internal dispute.”
The issue arose after First Vice Chief Kimberly Jonathan laid claim to the title of interim chief as the election period for the organization opened.
However, official FSIN communications — including a tweet Monday and a press release Tuesday — have declared Fourth Vice Chief Heather Bear as the interim chief.
The interim position is only set to be filled for one month until a chief is elected on Oct. 25.
As a result of the dispute, Jonathan told Saskatchewan Afternoon she’s been locked out of her office computer and official email account.
“I can’t even physically log in to my computer,” she said.
Both parties are citing the FSIN’s Executive Act in staking the claim to the interim chief position.
Jonathan said one area of the act stipulates that when the chief position is vacant, the first vice chief assumes the role of interim chief if they’re not up for re-election themselves.
She said she’s not running in the fall election, making it “clear” she should be interim chief.
However, in a Tuesday news release, the FSIN cited another area of the act.
“Executive and Senior Management have followed Section 29 of the FSIN Executive Act procedures in appointing Vice Chief Heather Bear as Interim Chief of the FSIN as of September 24th, 2018 effective until October 25, 2018,” the statement reads.
“The FSIN Executive Act dictates that a Vice Chief whose position is currently open for election cannot be ‘Interim Chief.'”
The statement said Bear would be withholding comment until after an emergency Indian Government Commission and Senate hearing on Wednesday to address internal staffing matters.
In regards to police being called to the office Monday, Jonathan said she wasn’t sure why it was necessary.
“There was no outburst or swearing or anything,” she said.
“I showed the police the legislation … and I told them I will not leave.”
She added she doesn’t intend to back down.
“I’m holding steadfast,” she said. “To do otherwise would be a breach of our legislation.”