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Stoney Tribal Council suing outspoken critic

STONEY NAKODA - An outspoken critic from the Stoney Nakoda First Nation is being sued for defamation by the Stoney Tribal Council for a Facebook post and a document he posted in the administration building critical of his elected leaders.

STONEY NAKODA - An outspoken critic from the Stoney Nakoda First Nation is being sued for defamation by the Stoney Tribal Council for a Facebook post and a document he posted in the administration building critical of his elected leaders.

According to the statement of claim, Greg Twoyoungmen posted a comment in a Facebook group on Jan. 25 critical of an upcoming land referendum held on Feb. 15.

In the post, he described the referendum as a "land grab" that would allegedly benefit elected officials and described the tribal council as a "tribal mafia." In the post he also alleged that the three elected chiefs earn three per cent of the profits made at the Stoney Nakoda Resort and Casino.

The lawsuit goes on to state that Twoyoungmen posted a document on Feb. 13 on a bulletin board and other public spaces within the Stoney Tribal Administration building that was false and malicious, including describing the tribal council as "mostly illiterate," "greedy" and "tyrannical."

Nothing in the statement of claim has been proven in court.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit include all 15 elected officials from the Wesley, Chiniki and Bearspaw bands and they are seeking $20,000 in damages.

"The only thing I can say is that the statement of claim speaks for itself, otherwise we have no other comment because it's now been filed and it will be in the courts," said Ken Christensen, acting band administrator.

Twoyoungmen welcomed the lawsuit and said he intends to file a statement of defence in the coming days.

"This gives us a perfect venue to expose them," said Twoyoungmen.

He said he believes the lawsuit is in retaliation for a petition he circulated earlier in the year calling for the suspension of the reserve's three-chief system.

"They figure that if they can intimidate me they'll get rid of me, but this only angered me."

In January, a grassroots group called the Concerned Citizens Committee, which he is a part of, began circulating a petition calling on the federal government to temporarily suspend the nation's three-chief electoral system.

The petition was addressed to Carolyn Bennett, minister of aboriginal affairs and northern development, and called on the federal government to uphold the results of a referendum held nearly 45 years ago that should have united the Bearspaw, Chiniki and Wesley bands under one chief and council.

Documents obtained by the Outlook indicate on Dec. 13, 1973, 225 electors voted in favour of a one-chief system, however, those results were only briefly upheld.

Instead, through a series of political maneuvers four decades ago, the three-chief electoral system was reinstated and persists today as the Stoney Nakoda Tribal Council.

Twoyoungmen, who is a former Wesley band councillor, blames the current three-chief system for a lot of the challenges his community faces.

One of his major concerns is the soaring costs to pay for three chiefs and 12 councillors as well as the four administrations running the reserve.

According to the reserve's consolidated financial statements, last year the Stoney Nakoda First Nation spent approximately $2.9 million on salaries and expenses for its elected officials, and $13.9 million on band government.

Its largest expenditure was $30.4 million dollars in an undefined line item called "other expenses."

The line item is nearly double what was forecast and was the largest annual expense in the budget - ahead of housing at $23.6 million and education at $17.7 million.


Rocky Mountain Outlook

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