A poster bars Chief Frieda Martselos and Judy Laviolette from the Salt River First Nation's gas bar. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio
A sign posted on Fort Smith’s joint Petro-Canada and Tim Hortons building bars Chief Frieda Martselos and her sister Judy Laviolette from the premises.
The franchises are owned by Salt River First Nation, of which Martselos is currently chief.
Salt River members said the order, apparently signed by four or five of the six elected members listed on Salt River’s website, was sparked by Martselos’ failure to involve council in approving important decisions.
When Cabin Radio went to the gas station late in the evening on Wednesday, a handful of people were out taking photos of the poster, or joking they should be in the photos giving a “thumbs up.”
According to Martselos. the current dispute arose after she questioned what she claims are inflated invoices paid out by the First Nation’s council.
“If I question payments that are unethical, is this the way they are going to deal with me?” Martselos asked, adding she believes the council is not allowed to put the sign up.
“I don’t do anything wrong, I’ve always been above board,” she told Cabin Radio. “Those people that are approving unethical finances … they’re the ones that have to deal with it. They don’t have to target me because I brought it up.
“It’s not a news story for me, it’s making sure things are done right at Salt River. I’m ethical, I’m honest, and I’m transparent. And everybody knows that.”
Cabin Radio has as yet seen no evidence to support allegations of unethical payments. Only one member of the First Nation’s council could be immediately reached – Ray Tourangeau, who said he did not sign his name on the poster.
“I don’t want to make a comment on [the poster],” said Tourangeau. “I don’t know about it; it happened after five, so I was home.”
The Salt River First Nation office appears to be closed until January.