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Recent Incidents at the Band Office and in the Gitanmaax Community

Updated: Sep 15, 2023

Communication from Gitanmaax Council to Gitanmaax Members

(September 12, 2023)

Gitanmaax Council wishes to provide Gitanmaax members with information about the present situation. On the morning of Tuesday, September 5, a Gitanmaax Band member enteredthe Gitanmaax Band Office, said that he was shuttingdown the. office,and that we can do this peacefully as long as everyone leaves the building. He was accompanied by a secondGitanmaax member. Several staff were concernedfor their physicalsafety and some were visiblyshaken by what was occurring. The Band members in question were in an office area past a security door which had been installed due to a lockdown cif. the office caused by one of these individuals several years earlier. Demonstrating great calm and professionalism, all Gitanmaax staff exited the Band Office and locked it up after the two individuals left. Several Gitanmaax staff members have reported feeling too unsafe to return to work because of last Tuesday's incident at the ijand Office, the individual's past aggressive behaviour generally, his occupation and shut down of the Band office several years ago and his actions at that time, and resulting from an aggressive incident involving the second Gitanmaax member at the Tri-Town Theatre on Wednesday evening when Gitanmaax Council were meeting with staff. To be clear: some Gitanmaax staff members are afraid, and for very understandable reasons. What has been framed by the above noted two individuals and their supporters in the community as b'eing about their alleged grievances regarding employment with the Gitanmaax Band and access to Gitanmaax Council, does not in any way justify their illegal, intimidating, outrageous, and frightening behaviour. Occupying a community building, shutting down vital Band operations (or any of them), disturbing people at work, and terrifying Band staff will not be tolerated. Gitanmaax Council has a responsibility to ensure a safe workplace for Gitanmaax staff; and safe operations for Gitanmaax members. We have zero tolerance for this kind of behaviour.

Gitanmaax Council has:

  • Met with Gitanmaax staff to respond-to concerns and share next steps. Council has not required staff members to return to their workplaces, wanting to ensure that measures are in place for a safe (physical and emotional safety) return to work process. Now that certain measures are in place, staff have been invited to return to work on Wednesday.

  • Contracted with and invited a critical incident, counsellor to assist Gitanmaax staff and Council members with the emotional toll and, for some, trauma of the past week's incidents.

  • Contracted with a reputable third-party security company to provide services to the Gitanmaax Band Office indefinitely and is in the process of arranging an increase to such security operations to other Band locations as soon as possible.

  • Has been .in close contact with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who have begun a file regarding this situation. Staff and Council members have been encouraged to continue to immediately report to the RCMP any incidents related to the present situation.

  • Retained lawyers to explore and pursue various options.

Gitanmaax Council wishes to express our gratitude for the Gitanmaax-staff members who have assisted in implementing the above measures and for the continued service of all Gitanmaax staff members at this challenging time. We have the utmost faith and confidence in Gitanmaax staff and appreciate the great service you do for Gitanmaax members and your significant efforts to ,improve the lives of individuals, families, and the community generally. We will continue to do our utmost to ensure that you feel safe and supported at work and in your work. For those in the Gitanmaax community who continue to support the above noted two individuals and post messages on social media and otherwise, please ask yourselves -whether that support is truly productive and constructive, or whether it ultimately just empowers and emboldens them to continue to intimidate others. Please also think about the consequences for others in the community before you post something. Gitanmaax Council will continue to keep members closely informed. For now, please know that we, assisted by Gitanmaax staff, are doing our very best to keep the community safe, and to get Band operations back on track. We thank you for reading this. On behalf of the Gitanmaax Chief and Council

Councilor Ross McRae Cc

Jackie Green Theresa Jack Shelley Johnson Cindy Jones Ross McRae Jessica Mikolayczyk Crystal Muldoe Toni Muldoe Mavis Sebastian Martha Wilson

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