By Roy L Hales
The damages caused by what appears to be a slipshod legal petition, that fourteen Cortes Island residents filed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia on January 2, 2019, continue to spread. One of the first casualties were the two referenda, for First Responder funding and a Community Hall Service tax, which had once been tentatively scheduled for Saturday, February 16, 2019. Though Cortes Island is in the midst of a comprehensive zoning bylaw review and on the verge of updating cannabis legislation, it still does not have an Advisory Planning Commission. This body was to have been appointed at the January 24, 2019, Strathcona Regional District Board meeting, but the decision was deferred “until the implications of the legal petition filed by Cortes constituents is fully understood by the Board.” Regional Director Noba Anderson submitted a revised list of candidates at the March 13 session, but the Board is still hesitant. The Klahoose Nation are the latest victims of this petition.
Proposed Klahoose Grant In Aid
Chief Kevin Peacey contributed $150 to the GoFundMe campaign set up after “Bernie Anderson (Noba’s Dad) lost his cabin home to a fire” last year. This act of charity may cost the Klahoose Nation the first Grant in Aid they have ever applied for.
In her Regional Director’s Update, published on the Cortes Tideline on March 17, 2019, Noba Anderson explains:
“I did, however, bring to the last Electoral Area Services Committee meeting the first application I have ever received from the Kalhoose First Nation thinking it would be a relatively neutral test of the Committee’s willingness to proceed with regular Cortes business.”
“Klahoose has applied for $5,000, with a commitment to contribute the same amount, to hire a researcher to catalogue information on artefacts, burial sites, and culturally significant sites currently held in government records. This information would allow the Nation to pursue repatriation work where appropriate as they are eager to learn where the artefacts from within their territories are being held, “with hopes that their return to the Nation will connect the threads of the past to the present, weaving lasting cultural legacies that will educate and inspire future generations.”
“Their application goes on to state that the Klahoose Nation “is committed to the researching, locating and repatriation of our ancestors and their belongings. As Indigenous peoples we have an inherent responsibility to ensure the safety and care of our ancestors and we are anxious for them to be laid to rest in their home territory, in the lands where they belong. By honouring this sacred responsibility, we fulfill our commitment to our Nation, to each other and to our children who can soar beyond this duty knowing all was done to make things right.”
“At the Committee meeting, Director [Brenda] Leigh stated that she had received a phone call from a Cortes resident objecting to this application on a number of political, legal and funding grounds.”
“Based on this comment, the Committee initially moved to defer this item until after the Supreme Court Case decision, and later agreed to defer the matter for only one month. If the Committee and Board are willing to move on this issue in April, I will then present my regular annual Grant in Aid recommendations in May. ”
Allegations In The Petition
The petition states that [Regional Director] “Anderson took money from her constituents for personal gain and a number of those same constituents received gifts and grants in return.”
Bernie Anderson’s cabin burnt down on January 31, 2018, and most of the twelve examples of (implied) bribery or kickbacks cited in the legal petition are said to have received grants in aid during 2018.
None of these allegations appear to stand up under serious scrutiny. For example, only one of the three Directors of non-profits named in the petition was actually serving that year and his organization had not applied for a grant in aid since 2017.
While the Klahoose Nation is not named in the petition, Chief Kevin Peacey’s $150 is the largest donation known to have come from Cortes Island. This is undoubtedly what Director Leigh’s anonymous source is referring to, when they object to the Klahoose receiving a grant in aid on “political, legal and funding grounds.”