'I'm going to be chief of Davis Inlet,' leader says
Mushuau Innu Nation Chief Simeon Tshakapesh says he won't run in the next band council election, and that instead, he plans to move his family, friends and supporters back to Davis Inlet.
According to Tshakapesh, the election has been called in Natuashish for Nov. 15, and was called due to community strife and political infighting that has been ongoing for years.
Also, at the Mushuau Innu Nation annual general meeting, someone called for a membership review. According to Tshakapesh, the Band Council has a bylaw that triggers a general election when a membership review is called for.
According to the Innu chief, irreconcilable differences have developed between him and Innu Nation Grand Chief Prote Poker, as well as rivalries within the Mushuau Band Council. All these differences have made it hard to govern, he said.
“It’s very, very, hard to move forward,” says Tshakapesh. “We’ve been having this problem for the past 30 years or more; political infighting. That’s why I think we never make any headway.”
According to Tshakapesh, The council voted unanimously to call a general election.
"I'm not sad (about stepping aside). I'm delighted," he said.
Tshakapesh believes that the fighting within the community is only getting worse each day. He says that the rifts have been created over the years because of selfishness amongst certain Innu members.
“Money, greed, and power,” said Tshakapesh, summing up the root causes of the community’s rivalries.
Tshakapesh will now embark on a project that many will find shocking: moving his family, friends and supporters back to Davis Inlet to escape all the fighting and conflict in Natuashish.
"I'm not running in the election, (because) I'm going to be chief of Davis Inlet," said Tshakapesh.
More than 10 years ago, the entire community of Davis Inlet was moved to Natuashish, after years of living in sub-par conditions. That move cost the government more than $150 million.
But Tshakapesh insists a move back to Davis Inlet would cost taxpayers nothing.
"I have my own remedies. ... I will make it happen," said Tshakapesh, adding he couldn't disclose details.
Tshakapesh claims that there was a faction of Mushuau Innu that, originally, wanted to stay in Davis Inlet when the move to Natuashish was underway. Tshakapesh, who was also the Chief at the time, knew that the fighting amongst the community would only continue in their new town.
“At the time, during relocation, we were the one group who wanted to stay in Davis Inlet because of the infighting that’s been happening” says Tshakapesh.
A partial resettlement could split the community, if Tshakapesh's vision becomes reality. He said Davis Inlet would have its own band council, separate from the one in Natuashish.
Tshakapesh said he would go to great lengths to have the resettlement of Davis Inlet include a recognized band council, and he would go to court if he has to.