A group of 10 angry Waswanipi residents have signed a petition calling for early band council elections. The petition was presented to the Waswanipi Returning Officer January 14.

According to John Jolly, the Assistant Returning Officer, 10 is enough. “It states in Waswanipi’s bylaw that the number of signatures needed in a case like this is 10,” Jolly said.

Although they did not list their complaints, the people, who don’t want to be identified, were calling for a Special General Assembly to voice their concerns.

Because of that, the Chief and Council have announced that there will be a meeting on February 4 to address the petition.

The Nation got in touch with one of those people who signed. “The people are afraid because of the way things are being handled,” said the source, who wishes to remain nameless. “There is so much financial strain on the community because of mismanagement by the band that people are getting laid off by the band council,” the person said.

“The reason I signed it is because there are so many unanswered questions that the people have. I’ve tried at general assemblies, but [Chief Kitchen] doesn’t answer to the people.”

The anonymous source went on to say that things like garbage pickup and snow removal are inconsistent at best.

And that in order to get their trash picked up, they have to call the council before it overflows into the street. They see this as another sign that things have to change.

“They will need at least 50 per cent of eligible voters to attend the meeting to have a quorum, which represents about 300 people,” said Jolly. “They will have to discuss the matter of whether they want to have early elections or not.”

Flora Blacksmith, Deputy Chief of Waswanipi, would not address the issue. “We’re not in a position to comment on that right now,” she said. “Not all the councilors have seen it yet.”

The next Waswanipi election is scheduled for August 2006.