MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Tahltan Chief Jerry Asp Removed from Office by Elders

Published by MAC on 2005-01-24

Tahltan Chief Jerry Asp Removed from Office by Elders

CHON-FM News

January 24 2005

1. The embattled chief of the Tahltan First Nation is seeking an injunction today to gain access to the band office. The office has been occupied by protestors since Thursday but chief Jerry Asp says he has to get into the office today.

(Asp) "My social assistance cheques have to go out on Tuesday morning. All my students - I have 50 or 60 students outside who receive living allowance at the end of every month and so Friday is their deadline. I have no choice except to have my band office open and my staff go back to work to produce those cheques and even though it's a low number those people need that money. So I have no choice except to open that band office."

About 30 protestors including Tahltan elders started the sit in last week. They say Asp negotiated mining deals with Nova Gold without properly consulting them but Asp says there were several public meetings on the Nova Gold issue including one where members from outside were flown in at a large expense.

Asp says he attempted to talk with the protestors but says he was refused access with elders he brought with him. He says that went too far.

(Asp) "It's probably the worst thing that's ever happened to me personally but it's probably also one of the worst things ever happened to the Tahltan Nation. When they sent those five elders away, those elders will never forget that. They will never forgive that unless there's something drastic done."

Asp says he does not understand the protest and feels he still has support of the majority of the Tahltan community. It is unknown if the protestors are still occupying the band office this morning. Though the Tahltan First Nation appears torn over his leadership Asp says he will remain chief until the next election. He says despite a petition by elders that declares him no longer chief he will not resign. Protestors say they weren't consulted about a development deal the Tahltan has with mining company Nova Gold but Asp insists there has been plenty of consultations.

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