Opponents of the chief of Red Pheasant First Nation have now taken their protest to the First Nation’s band office.
Several women calling for changes on the reserve ended up staging a protest outside the band office Monday as they continued to voice opposition to Red Pheasant chief Stewart Baptiste.
It was the same group of women who protested outside the North Battleford courthouse last week, when Baptiste was sentenced for two breach of probation and two driving-while-suspended charges.
Baptiste received a suspended sentence and six months probation, as well as fines. Last fall Baptiste was sentenced for a mischief charge and the chief still awaits trial for impaired driving charges.
While the sentencing went on inside, the Red Pheasant women held placards outside, calling for Baptiste’s ouster from office.
The protest Monday at the reserve was more of the same, with the women standing outside the band office with placards calling for the chief to resign.
It came about following a meeting on the reserve between the band council and the group of women earlier that day.
Spokesperson Elsie Wuttunee said their group had asked to meet with Chief Baptiste and council during their “duly convened meeting” held in the health centre.
According to Wuttunee, the group was given time on the agenda, at which time they called for changes on the reserve. The group formally asked for a band meeting to be called, as well as for a housing committee and a number of other items. They also called for the reserve to be declared a dry reserve – no drugs or alcohol.
“We talked to them directly to their faces to let them know how we felt,” said Wuttunee.
But the response from the chief and council was negative, and according to the women the council pushed to move forward with the rest of the agenda of their meeting. Wuttunee said their group was ordered to leave.
At that point, the situation looked like it might get out of hand. The women said they went over to the band office and briefly considered taking it over and staging a sit-in. But the women said they changed their minds and decided against the idea, because they didn’t want to be charged by police.
They decided to conduct a peaceful protest outside the band office instead. Wuttunee explained their group wanted to obey the law, “unlike the current chief.”
In the afternoon, members of the RCMP were called to the band office to investigate the situation. In the end the officers spoke with the protesters, but the women said no one was arrested or charged.
The women are pledging to continue their protest against Chief Baptiste this week. They said they were planning to be back outside the band office the rest of the week to continue their peaceful campaign for change.