Wednesday July 23, 2014

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Jail bird leader comes out ahead?

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And we wonder why there are so many problems on reserves? I know this is a touchy topic but it’s precisely because of happenings like this. Seriously.

A North Battleford area chief has just been re-elected and like anyone in such a position he’s no doubt happy about the victory, but guess where he was when he learned he had won out over his competition? Locked up in a jail cell, that’s where.

Stewart Baptiste was picked up by RCMP on election day and charged with three counts of violating his parole. Allegations include a failure to pay restitution resulting from a mischief charge and violation of an order not to possess or consume alcohol. He also appeared on allegations of driving while disqualified. On top of that, Baptiste is awaiting trial in October stemming from an alleged drunk driving incident in 2010.

Now that’s a quality leader and the perfect role model for local children. NOT.

Apparently there are people on the reserve who aren’t too happy about the latest turn of events and I can’t say I blame them. This guy really must have some nerve. Immediately after being released from jail, he went to the Red Pheasant School to address the reserve’s children and school staff. What message could he possibly have?

“This is really disheartening,” says Red Pheasant resident Elsie Wuttunee. And it is... yet she adds, “Some people don’t seem to think there’s anything wrong with this. He leaves jail and goes to the school like nothing’s wrong? The kids pick up on that...” Wuttunee and others also say the community’s reputation isn’t the only concern. They point out, in his previous two-year term, Baptiste didn’t hold even a single meeting for band members.

“This is more of a dictatorship, as far as I’m concerned... I am embarrassed. How can anybody possibly take this man seriously?”

Word also has it that residents on the reserve fear reprisal and/or job losses if they speak out against Baptiste and if that’s the case, this system couldn’t be more corrupt.

If the Canadian government and we the taxpayers are helping to foot the bill for places like this then there should be some way to step in when things have gone bad. Why is a person like this allowed to continue on as leader? This is corruption with a capital “C” and if nobody stands up to stop it, there’s a pretty bleak future ahead.


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