Splatsin Chief Doug Thomas has been suspended after hearings in Kelowna will decide whether he remains in his position.
Ken Barnes, communications specialist with Splatsin, confirmed that as of April 28, in accordance with section six of the Splatsin Custom Election Code, Thomas has been suspended with pay until the hearing of two petitions are resolved.
Those hearings took place in Kelowna on Monday, May 8, and Tuesday, May 9. Barnes said as of Wednesday, the results of those hearings aren’t known, and it’s possible there will be another petition hearing coming up later in May.
The Splatsin community is divided in opinions of Thomas’ leadership a little more than one year into his four-year term. Last month, Splatsin community members blocked access to key band buildings, including the Splatsin Community Centre, the Health Centre and the band office, calling for a new election to be held.
“They need to get the message, they’re not wanted in leadership positions, the community is suffering underneath this leadership,” Setatkwa Christian, one of the protesters, said at the time.
The protest, which occurred on April 17, came after a vote of non-confidence was carried out in December. That should have triggered a new election, the protesters said, but after three nomination meetings were cancelled, a new election still has yet to be initiated.
The hearings in Kelowna are to determine whether a new election should be held.
According to a court document, the majority of Splatsin council voted to order a new election in March. However, councillor Beverly Thomas has challenged that decision in federal court, saying the band’s election code does not allow for a new election to be held in the middle of a four-year term.
Splatsin councillor Len Edwards said April 17 that council has been trying to move forward with a new election for months, but “every time we get to a spot where we think we are going to have an election, somebody brings something new up and it stops it.”
The Morning Star has reached out to Thomas for comment.