|Herald photo by Nick Kuhl
Suspended Piikani Chief Gayle Strikes With A Gun is consoled by a tearful supporter as she arrives to the Piikani Nation's administration office in Brocket Wednesday afternoon.
Lethbridge Herald - Brocket
"I am Chief Gayle Strikes With A Gun, Chief of the Piikani Nation."
Those were the first words from suspended Strikes With A Gun to reporters at the Piikani Nation's administration office in Brocket Wednesday afternoon, a day after acting Chief Fabian North Peigan and council issued her a letter formally requesting her resignation by Dec. 14.
The Chief was suspended for the second time in the past four months on Nov. 19, with the 30-day timeframe originally set to expire on Dec. 19.
The suspension states "during her term of suspension, the Chief shall not attempt to give direction to admin staff, represent the Piikani Nation or otherwise conduct the business of the Piikani Nation."
"I have an office here, so I plan to come back to work," Strikes With a Gun said.
"I remain committed to my position. It was you the Piikani people that elected me to be your chief in January 2011. I was not elected by the 12 councillors. Therefore there is no basis for the Piikani council to ask me to resign as your chief."
Strikes With A Gun, who has been working out of a home office, is citing the Piikani's governance document "The Powers, Duties and Responsibilities of Chief and Council of the Peigan Nation," which became effective Oct. 1, 1985, as her main argument.
It says that any meeting held without the chief's knowledge or consent is a violation as her main argument.
She has obtained legal counsel and is proceeding with appeals, but couldn't discuss the specifics of the case.
"That's fine, that's what was expected," North Peigan said.
"She's got every right to appeal. This is not a personal vendetta in any shape or form. This is to resolve internal matters, conflict of interest, fine lines in governance, ethics and moral values that are incorporated into the mindset of the people," he continued.
"We want to resolve this - not for us, not for her, but for the people. We simply ask that she would humble herself and swallow the pride and admit that there was some, perhaps not blatant but some ignorance to regulations which crossed a fine line."
Strikes With A Gun was originally suspended for 30 days on Sept. 5 amid allegations over a conflict of interest and nepotism in dealing with a financial transfer regarding Piikani Medical Transportation.
"I don't have anything to do with Peigan Taxi," she said.
"There was no conflict of interest on my part. I think this is a cover up, using Peigan Taxi, because there are many atrocities happening here on the Nation. If you just take a little drive down through the community, you'll see my people live in poverty - and the poverty is not being addressed."
"I feel that the chief was a target," added Dominic Crow Shoe, a Piikani member and supporter of Strikes With A Gun, has been circulating a petition calling for the removal of all 12 members of the council.
"We have a chief that's doing the right thing; we have a chief that's going to make a change; we have a chief who believes in the Nation. I have no beliefs or trusts in our council today who sits in there dictating how we should be living here on this reserve."
"Supposedly acting Chiefs Doane Crow Shoe and Fabian North Peigan should have contested my seat as Chief of the Piikani Nation in January, 2011, when they had the opportunity," Strikes With A Gun said.
"Now they all want to be chiefs. I did not recognize the first, neither am I recognizing the second suspension."