Members of the Pheasant Rump First Nation community protested in the form of a walk on Friday, May 24 which they dubbed “Walk for Justice.”
The protest comes on the heels of a much debated court case that saw Terry McArthur, chief of the Pheasant Rump First Nations community pleading guilty in May to sexually assaulting a teenage girl.
The walk which began at the Pheasant Rump band office saw about 20 people trekking their way to Carlyle along the highway. Clarissa McArthur, one of the four councilors in Pheasant Rump has publicly voiced her feelings regarding the situation. She said the aim of the walk, which spans over 31 kilometres, is to have people aware of Terry McArthur’s sexual assault charges against a minor. And the fact that he still holds the position of chief within the community.
“He’s been charged, he’s pleaded guilty to this, he’s convicted already of his crimes and why should we be respectful to a – pretty much a pedophile,” she said.
Her stance on the matter has come at a price as she recently received a letter informing her that she has been fired from her position as program manager of the bands Little Pheasant Rump Head Start daycare. She has also lost her council salary in addition to other related duties. Clarissa McArthur has not been the only victim of publicly voicing her contempt; several articles have been published detailing the fate of other staff members at the day care. According to a CBC news article Candace McArthur who is in charge of the day care lost $270 from her salary as a form of discipline because she spoke with the news agency. The article also highlighted the cook at the daycare who also received a pay deduction and indicated that intimidation is perpetuated in the community causing band members to be fearful in sharing their opinions. Clarissa McArthur said the community is not in support of their chief and that it’s only his immediate family and other councilors that seem to be content with him in the position
“There are three council members who are in support of him; I’m the only one who is not in support of what he has done, because what makes it right for a grown man to touch a child- in a sexual way too…,” she said.
According to the article the mother of the teenager and her family were harassed when the assault was reported. “We came home from a pow-wow, all of us and there was a dead dog on our doorstep. There was sugar poured into my vehicle and it was vandalized. So there was a lot of concern for our safety,” the teen’s mother said in the article.
She went on to explain that her daughter has suffered even more from the recent events saying that her grades started to drop and she even tried to commit suicide. It was also stated in the article that the chief and other councilors declined an interview with the CBC
Chief McArthur was set to be sentenced in a Carlyle court on Wednesday, May 22 but the judge ordered officials to prepare a presentence report. These reports are normally done to provide facts on the offender and provide background information for the judge. This was one of the contributing factors that led to the walk on Friday as the delay did not sit well with many members of the community. In one CBC article Matthew McArthur, a distant relative of the chief vented his frustrations.
“What are they going to do next time? Keep pushing it back again?” he said.
“This is disgusting.”