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Fort Providence chief removed
Lack of communication cited as a main concern

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, May 16, 2013

Wayne Sabourin is no longer the chief of Deh Gah Got'ie First Nation.

On May 9, the band council passed a motion removing Sabourin from his position and installing Berna Landry, one of the band councillors, as the acting chief until an election is held on July 15.

A lack of communication between Sabourin, the band council and band members was the primary reason that he was removed from the position, Landry said.

Beginning last summer Landry said the eight-member band council began hearing concerns from elders and other members that Sabourin wasn't communicating enough with the community and wasn't attending events like elders' funerals.

Sabourin also wasn't providing the band council with advance notice about meetings he was attending outside of Fort Providence, she said.

Raised concerns

Landry said the band council tried to work with Sabourin by raising the concerns with him and making suggestions about how he could connect with band members. The council also arranged for a leadership program he could complete.

The council hoped that Sabourin would change, she said.

With concerns continuing, Sabourin making decisions without council's approval and plans needing to be made for the Dehcho First Nations' annual assembly, which Deh Gah Got'ie is hosting this June, Landry said the council decided to take action.

Four councillors met with a group of approximately seven elders in early May to share their concerns and ask for advice.

Landry said the elders suggested that Sabourin be asked to step down and that a councillor act as chief until the election for chief and council, which was already set for July 15.

"The elders were upset with the council, too," said Landry.

The elders felt that the council should have done something earlier, she said.

Landry said the council and elders met with Sabourin again to raise their concerns before council passed a motion on May 9 to replace him. The council was unanimous in its decision, she said. One councillor was away from the community during the vote.

Landry said she thinks that because Sabourin is young and didn't have any leadership experience, he found the position of chief overwhelming.

"We tried talking to him," she said.

Calls to Sabourin's home for comment were not returned by press time.

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