There’s always a touch of the absurd, a smattering of the ridiculous and a dash of insanity when dealing with bureaucracy.
Last fall, October 28, I called my band council office in Waskaganish to ask for, as is my right, a copy of a resolution. Resolution number 53,1 had heard from my “Deep Throat” in the band office, had to do with my band, God bless them, allegedly requesting a share of the Cree Regional Authority budget. The voice at the other end said they would fax me a copy of said resolution. Not long after they called back and said I couldn’t get a copy because I work for “the media.” “But I’m a member of the band!!!” I whined. “I’ll have to ask chief and council,” he answered unsympathetically. He didn’t hang up on me but he may as well have.
The plot thickened the next day when a letter was faxed to my attention. “Unfortunately, the resolution that you are requesting is not within the possession of the corporate secretary’s office. I have searched the records of the office and have come up empty-handed concerning resolution #53,” it said. I realize now I should have asked for resolutions 52 and 54 just to see if the mysterious resolution actually existed. The letter went on to say my letter requesting #53 would be tabled at the next council meeting on November 3rd.
October 30th, 1997, another letter is faxed providing additional information and asking me to “disregard the previous memorandum” of October 29. “I was able to locate quite easily resolution #53 as adopted by council on September 9, 1997.” Aha! So there was such a resolution. The very polite letter continued, asking for “an addi-
tional time frame of a few days to locate the appropriate decision with regards to fees fixed by the band for the proper transmission of this resolution.” I waited by the fax until the whole issue slipped my mind and I moved on to other important business.
Months later my mind wandered back to that mythic resolution and I placed another call. “What’s going on with that resolution?” I asked in the friendliest voice I use for such matters. The voice replied, rather nonchalantly I thought, “It has to go through the Grand Chieff!! !)” My jaw dropped… OK, so it didn’t really drop but you get the idea.
I let it go at that and waited, naively, for Matthew Coon Come to call.
Today, the 5th of February, I called Waskaganish again. I learned that resolution #53 was indeed passed but I wouldn’t be able to get my grubby paws on it as it was “crucial to ongoing negotiations.” And besides, they didn’t bother adding, the fees for the transmission and copying of resolutions had never been set. More than a decade after the Cree/Naskapi Act was passed in Parliament.
We called a higher power. Someone at the GCCQ/EA said they didn’t know of any band setting fees orany band member actually asking for a copy of any resolution. The Creep/Naskrapi Act states:”Any band member may ask for and recieve a copy of any resolution or by-law passed by the band for areasonable fee set by the band.” Or something like that. I don’t care. I just want my resolution. Itcan’t be any harder than finding out who really owns the Lamborghini Building.