Protesters Nancy Gabriel (left) and Cora Kruger at the table blocking the entry way to the Penticton Indian Band office earlier this week. A second court appearance is set for Wednesday. Western News file photo

Two sides in Penticton Indian Band dispute back in court Wednesday

Protesters and the Penticton Indian Band administration headed back to court

Protesters who occupied the Penticton Indian Band (PIB) office property for two days last week will be back in court next Wednesday.

They appeared Friday in the Supreme Court of Canada in Kelowna following the band administration’s filing of an application for injunction.

Protesters had moved onto the office property Tuesday.

According to one of the protesters, Nancy Gabriel, who was at the proceedings Friday, the judge in the matter decided to move the matter to Penticton at the request of another protester, Dolly Kruger.

According to Gabriel, it was as a show of “good faith” protesters, with the help of two council members, moved the picnic table blocking the door and took down the posters Thursday.

In a news release earlier the PIB administration said it was seeking undetermined costs as a result of the group’s action.

In a Facebook statement Wednesday morning the band announced it was shutting down PIB programs and services because the “protest was not peaceful” and “Poses a clear risk to staff and members.”

The office was open again Friday.

Related: Tensions mounting at Penticton Indian Band office occupation

Protesters are continuing to demand a greater transparency, much more communication and financial accountability from Chief Chad Eneas and councillors.

“What they wanted to do was stop us from blockading the band office which was stopped yesterday (Thursday) at 10:10 a.m.,” said Kruger. “It was never in our minds or was it ever our intention to stop payroll, our closure was directed to chief and council, Jonathan Baynes (acting band manager) and legal council for the Penticton Indian Band.”

Gabriel added: “We took into consideration other members who are employed (by the band) who were concerned about their paycheques, which is understandable, they have bills to pay.

“We stated right at the beginning we weren’t going to stop them from getting the payroll out.”

She added the band’s decision to stop services was to make it appear that the protesters were causing the shutdown even though she said staff worked Tuesday at the office in spite of the blockade.

“I’m sure (in court) they’re probably going to try to get some sort of costs but hopefully not,” said Gabriel. “We don’t want this, we don’t want to incur any more costs to the band unnecessarily. This (court case) is a totally unnecessary cost to the band which is our band funds. They’re using our band funds to file lawsuits against their band members.

“All we want is for the so called leadership to sit down in the band hall and have a duly convened band meeting with the membership.”

Calls to acting band manager Baynes were not returned by the end of the day Friday and no further releases were on the band’s Facebook page by late Saturday afternoon.

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