First Nation ponders future as chief sentenced to jail

August 8, 2013 - 4:47pm Updated: August 9, 2013 - 6:23am
File Photo of a gavel, from the public domain.
File Photo of a gavel, from the public domain.

A council member of the Pheasant Rump Nakota First Nation says they'll be fair as they ponder the future of their leader. But at least one resident thinks the chief should be ousted for good.

Chief Terry McArthur was sentenced to nine months in jail Wednesday after sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl. Both the Crown and the defence seemed to be surprised by the severity of the ruling. Both sides proposed a much lighter 12-month conditional sentence to be served in the community.

Now council member Gaylene McArthur says she and the rest of the members will take a few days to decide whether he can remain chief.

"We're going to work through this. We'll be just, we'll be fair," she said, adding that councillors seem to be of "one mind."

Bud McArthur is an elder in the community and is less than impressed with the sentence. He said he believes nine months is too short.

"I thought he'd get more than that and I think that the court might have been a bit lenient with him being a chief," he said. "I see guys that have been charged with (sexual assault) go to jail for two years."

Bud called the whole incident a "disgrace" for those living at Pheasant Rump and said Terry McArthur's actions do not show true leadership.

In the meantime, Gaylene says their rules dictate they are allowed to go without a chief and they won't be holding a by-election to replace him.

As for their decision, she expects they'll have an answer for Terry in the next few days. She said community members are welcome to come to the band office and express their thoughts on the matter, but no one has done so just yet.

"The opinions and concerns we've heard about have all been through statements made to the media," she said.

"No one has actually come to us and made any formal statements."