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West Point election torpedoed

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services
Monday, March 12, 2007

HAY RIVER - A new chief and council were acclaimed last week for West Point First Nation.

It's the latest move in a leadership dispute at the Hay River band. Abner Cayen was acclaimed chief.

The four new councillors are Shannon Buckley, Rosaline Cayen, Lucille Lafferty and Chelsea Thomas.

Because of the acclamations, an election, which had been set for March 12, is not going ahead as planned.

Karen Felker, who claims to be the legitimate chief, said she doesn't know why the dissidents went ahead with an election process. She insisted the acclamations won't stand up in court and won't be recognized by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. "It doesn't hold water," Felker said Saturday. "It doesn't hold anything."

Abner Cayen could not be reached for comment Saturday.

The leadership dispute erupted in November, when four of six councillors -- on what may or may not be the former council -- ousted Felker and named Councillor Sonya Cayen acting chief.

Divisions in the 73-member First Nation are largely along family lines.