‘Not Very Neighbourly’

“The tolls arbitrarily imposed on the Morley reserve Monday went straight into the pockets of the band members who collected them. And the only legacy they left was one of anger and frustration among the drivers who, through no fault of their own, had to ransom themselves so they could continue their travels…” 

ERBLNotVeryNeighbourly800x800“After a deadly accident closed part of the Trans Canada Highway west of Calgary on Monday, drivers who attempted to take a detour through a ‘First Nation’ were told to pay $20 or turn back. 

“The decision by a couple of members of Stoney Nakoda ‘First Nation’ to hold up a sign and demand money has led to differing reactions among residents.

Aaron Two Young Men said he doesn’t think it was right.

“It’s just a road,” he said. “People (were) trying to get home.”

“Tribal administrator Ken Christensen, however, said that in his opinion, 

“nobody did anything wrong in collecting a toll.”

–‘Drivers charged $20 ‘toll’ after deadly crash forces detour through ‘First Nation’,
CTVNews.ca Staff, August 25, 2015


‘Detour fees at Stoney Nakoda ‘First Nation’ after highway accident… Some residents charged $20 for passage, others erected blockades’

“An elder of the Stoney Nakoda ‘First Nation’, west of Calgary, is defending the actions of some band members who charged money to let motorists detour through the reserve…

“Elder Roland Rollinmud was reacting to the anger of some motorists who either faced blockades, or were charged toll money after the collision between a semi-trailer and a minivan Monday afternoon killed an 86-year-old woman and injured several other people.

“In the aftermath, the eastbound lanes near Scott Lake Hill, about 50 kilometres west of Calgary, were shut down for several hours.

“Many frustrated motorists tried to get out of the traffic jam by taking short cuts through Morley, the main Stoney settlement, to get north onto Highway 1A.

“Some residents of the ‘First Nation’ set up blockades to prevent the shortcuts, while others reportedly charged money to let motorists to pass through the land.

“Rollinmud says that was justifiable.

“We’ve seen the Parks Canada collecting from going into the park. The reserve is just like a park to us” {?}, he said.

“And I do believe that I would do that if someone would come on my territorial {sic}, just like going through my backyard.”

“But Tabatha Clarke, who also lives on the reserve, says the purpose of the blockades was to prevent trespassing and ensure the safety of the residents. She says she’s sorry some people took it upon themselves to charge tolls…

“And as for the people who were charging and the people who were being rude, you know, I apologize for that. They should have handled it differently.”

“Clarke says some people were charging $20 per shortcut.

“We heard that someone made about $500. Easy way to make money I guess,” she said.”

–‘Detour fees at Stoney Nakoda ‘First Nation’ after highway accident justified, says elder — Some residents charged $20 for passage, others erected blockades’,
CBC News, Aug 26, 2015


Morley flooding, 2013
Morley flooding, 2013

From 2013:
“Morley was one of the hardest hit locations in Southern Alberta with roads washed away and homes under water, and the community is putting out the call for volunteers and drivers… They also need dollies, carts and a forklift…

“Tuesday in Morley, more than 50 people from Calgary and Canmore volunteered their time, energy, and resources to ensure that evacuated Morley residents were well cared for. They put in long hours hauling equipment, sorting supplies, and entertaining exhausted children…”

–‘Morley needs help to rebuild after flooding’,
Colleen Schmidt, CTV Calgary, June 26, 2013

“Charity groups in Calgary are collecting warm winter clothes for people in Morley, where many families are still coping with the effects of last year’s flood…”


Melissa King via Getty Images
Melissa King via Getty Images

‘The Stoneys’ shameful opportunism’

“Members of the Stoney Nakoda Band who charged motorists a $20 toll after a fatal accident Monday on Highway 1 forced drivers to detour onto Morley reserve roads, should be ashamed of themselves. The band members’ actions — including blockading the roads to prevent drivers from reaching Highway 1A for the eight hours it took for the Trans-Canada’s eastbound lanes to reopen — were uncharitable and contemptible.

“Instead of being sympathetic to the drivers’ plight, band officials justified their members’ imposition of the $20 toll by saying the motorists were trespassing and could have faced charges. How quickly the band has forgotten the way Calgarians reached out to help them during the 2013 floods, without any expectation of compensation.

“Stoney elder Roland Rollinmud claimed the tolls were no different than the fees Parks Canada charges visitors to the national parks. Rollinmud’s statement is disingenuous. Banff National Park’s website explains that

“entry and service fees are charged at most national parks and national historic sites, where revenues are kept to support visitor services and facilities. This means that every time you visit a park or site, you are investing in its future — and in a legacy for future generations.”

“The tolls arbitrarily imposed on the Morley reserve Monday went straight into the pockets of the band members who collected them. And the only legacy they left was one of anger and frustration among the drivers who, through no fault of their own, had to ransom themselves so they could continue their travels. One Stoney band member who felt bad about the tolls said she heard of individuals making up to $500 from them.

“Premier Rachel Notley’s reaction was puzzling, as she claimed the Morley residents

“have rights on their reserve land akin to, or greater than, certainly private property owners.”

Since the land is communal — because aboriginal culture doesn’t traditionally recognize land ownership — the rights would not be akin to those of private property owners, who anyway can’t charge tolls when someone crosses their land.

“Stoney tribal administrator Ken Christensen needs to rethink his position that

“nobody did anything wrong in collecting a toll.”

Imposing a toll was clearly wrong, especially given the circumstances. If people had been short-cutting through the reserve in their haste to get to a festival, that would be one thing, but for band members to profit from a death in a highway accident is execrable.

“It’s interesting that the band welcomes people onto the reserve to visit a restaurant, tourist attraction or other business, but otherwise, outsiders are trespassing. The band members’ behaviour Monday was shameful opportunism. Hopefully, in the cooler light of day, they will rethink it.”

–‘The Stoneys’ shameful opportunism’,


(Nathan Godfrey CBC).
(Nathan Godfrey CBC).

“Premier Rachel Notley says the province has NO JURISDICTION over a toll charged to motorists detouring through the Morley reserve Monday, after an accident closed a portion of the Trans-Canada Highway.

“What I’ve been advised by our transportation officials is that we were put into a position where that was the only possible detour that we could use, and that’s unfortunate, but that was what it was,” she told reporters in a scrum Tuesday evening.

“We have to acknowledge that ‘FIRST NATIONS’ HAVE RIGHTS ON THEIR RESERVE LAND akin to, or GREATER THAN, certainly PRIVATE PROPERTY OWNERS. And you know, they are going to make those decisions and we don’t have jurisdiction on that… {END RACE BASED LAW…}

“Hopefully {?}, we won’t be in a position where we have to detour on that specific point on the highway in the future,” Notley said.

“Stoney Tribal administrator Ken Christensen told ‘CTV News’ that…motorists using the reserve as a detour route were trespassing and could have been charged.”

“Many drivers were upset when they encountered blockades and were asked to pay $20…

“The Highway 1 crash between a semi-trailer truck and a minivan claimed the life of an 86-year-old woman and injured six other people… The eastbound lanes of the Trans-Canada were closed for about eight hours while police investigated and the debris was cleared.

“Some drivers, trying to get around the traffic jam, turned onto roads leading to the Stoney Indian Reserve.

“Stoney Tribal administrator Ken Christensen told CTV News that

“In my opinion, nobody did anything wrong in collecting a toll. ‘Nation’ members own the reserve {No, they don’t; that’s why it’s administered through the ‘Indian Act’, and why residents can’t sell their land} and people were illegally, I want to emphasize, illegally were on the reserve, using it as a detour route. So, the fact that a few ‘nation’ members pocketed a few dollars doesn’t bother me at all.”

–‘Premier says detour onto reserve land unfortunate; motorists faced $20 toll’,
James Wood, Calgary Herald, August 25, 2015 {CAPS added}


And finally, this is yet another Treaty violation — This reserve is covered by Treaty 7:


“And the undersigned Blackfeet, Blood, Piegan and Sarcee Head Chiefs and Minor Chiefs, and Stony Chiefs and Councillors on their own behalf and on behalf of all other Indians inhabiting the Tract within ceded do hereby solemnly promise and engage to strictly observe this Treaty, and also to conduct and behave themselves as good and loyal subjects of Her Majesty the Queen. They promise and engage that they will, in all respects, obey and abide by the Law, that they will maintain peace and good order between each other and between themselves and other tribes of Indians, and between themselves and others of Her Majesty’s subjects, whether Indians, Half Breeds or Whites, now inhabiting, or hereafter to inhabit, any part of the said ceded tract; and that THEY WILL NOT molest the person or property of any inhabitant of such ceded tract, or the property of Her Majesty the Queen, or INTERFERE WITH OR TROUBLE ANY PERSON, PASSING OR TRAVELLING THROUGH THE SAID TRACT OR ANY PART THEREOF, and that they will assist the officers of Her Majesty in bringing to justice and punishment any Indian offending against the stipulations of this Treaty, or infringing the laws in force in the country so ceded.”


COMMENT: “It’s Native land, you are a foreigner, time you people pay up!”
“Charging a toll is a very low life thing to do in an emergency situation. People used to help each other in emergency situations.”
“Morley residents did the very same thing a week ago. Late Monday, the 17th, east bound traffic was blocked in the same area by paving. Several cars tried to leave at that first overpass east of the Kananaski River and take the gravel road over to the Morley road. They encountered the same thing, cars forming a roadblock and natives demanding a toll…”
“The “gentle stewards of nature” obviously haven’t looked up “compassion” in their dictionary. You remember compassion, don’t you? It’s what we’re supposed to feel for Natives whenever they play the victim card.

“There’s an old saying, “what goes around, comes around”. I suggest the Morley Rez extortionists remember that next time they want something from US!”
“I would like to see a toll set up at either end of this reserve road… They toll us for going in, we’ll toll them for coming out…”
“What Premier Notley said was a statement of fact, not racism. Canada’s legal framework guarantees certain rights and authorities around native reserves that are vastly in excess of those that would be enjoyed by a private land owner. {END RACE BASED LAW…}

“The province has very limited jurisdiction over what takes place on the Stoney reserve. Regardless of how you feel about the ethics of charging a toll to otherwise-stranded motorists after a fatal accident closed off the road, from a legal perspective the province couldn’t really have done anything about it one way or another.”
“I trust the next time it floods they won’t complain when a truck comes around to sell water for $5 a small bottle. I’m sorry I donated food during the last flood. I hope everyone keeps this in mind when thinking of patronizing their casino or new restaurant. You wouldn’t want to trespass by going there.”
“Given this reserve’s reputation as on one of the most corrupt in Canada, the sadder fact is that the people who really need the money will never see it.”
“Wow, well I guess they can do what they want and that’s the problem, treaties – hate ’em !”
“Ken Christensen: Guess all of us trespassers should remember we are facing charges next time you want us to come spend money at your casino or the new Chief Chiniki restaurant? Actions like these do nothing for helping to change perceptions of our Native culture and in rebuilding a stronger relationship for our youth of tomorrow. Let’s just be honest sir, it was a poor, tasteless decision by some and to stand behind the argument that ‘it was our right’ is weak and cowardly…”
“I would understand, if folks were driving through yards and fields, to get around the accident, but this was on already built roads. I’m reminded when the flood hit two years ago, many people on the reserve were displaced. I remember one chief in the media saying his people had been forgotten, asking for help and people outside the reserve stepped up to help in droves, no questions asked.

“While this accident was not an emergency like the flood per se for other drivers, those on the reserve decided to “help out” by blockading and charging a toll. Maybe it’s unfair to compare the flood to this, but nevertheless, it seems a bit callous for those on the reserve not to step up and help people out in this situation…..private property or not.”
“The ‘FN’ are not good neighbours.”


paying to pass jan 2015We covered the Saskatchewan version of this last year:

“One day in July 2013, Greg Bartsch, the owner of ‘Bartsch Building Movers’, was hauling a house to a spot near Edenwold, Sask., and took grid road 640 to get there.

“His truck was rumbling along with the house behind it, with vehicles ahead and behind to help navigate. The convoy drove over a hill and crossed a bridge, when suddenly the path was blocked by vehicles. He was told the people were from the Muscowpetung Saulteaux ‘First Nation’, and that they were on reserve land.

“They said it was their road, and they wanted a fee to go across it,” said Bartsch. “They were very, very intimidating.”

“The fee they wanted was $3,000. Because of his load and the hill behind him, Bartsch said he couldn’t turn around, so he had to pay.

“We were stopped maybe three-and-a-half, four hours by the time we dug up money, (and) phoned back to the office of the company we move for.”

“Bartsch was moving the house for ‘Deneschuk Homes’ that day, and its president Lee Rusnak called the RCMP. Rusnak said some officers RELUCTANTLY made their way out to where Bartsch was stopped.

“RCMP officer called me back and said, ‘You’re probably best to pay the $3,000’,” said Rusnak. “And I’m like ‘you gotta be flipping kidding me. This is ridiculous!’ “

More at:
‘First Nations’ Extorting Road Fees’ (Sask.) {December, 2014}:


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