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Ucluelet First Nation chief loses status over poaching of elk

The Ucluelet First Nation has taken the unusual step of temporarily removing hereditary-chief status from Wilson Jack, in the aftermath of his January conviction for hunting a Roosevelt elk out of season.
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Wilson Jack, second from left, has been temporarily stripped of his hereditary-chief status by the Ucluelet First Nation.

The Ucluelet First Nation has taken the unusual step of temporarily removing hereditary-chief status from Wilson Jack, in the aftermath of his January conviction for hunting a Roosevelt elk out of season.

The elk poaching had already brought Jack a suspended sentence and two years of probation in Port Alberni provincial court.

Ucluelet First Nation president Les Doiron said Jack was always going to have to face repercussions from his people, along with suffering embarrassment over what he did.

Elders determined what action to take, Doiron said

“They determined that they don’t want Wilson Jack to be hereditary chief for a minimum of two years, to act as the hereditary chief in any capacity whatsoever.”

That also means Jack has been removed from the nation’s six-person legislature, which is led by Doiron.

Doiron said the move made by the elders is rare.

“This doesn’t happen very often, I can tell you that,” he said. “It’s got to be quite a serious offence.

“This wasn’t an easy one to bring to the table.”

The elders said Jack must do 200 hours of community service, a condition of his probation, away from Ucluelet First Nation territory, Doiron said.

“Because he chose to go to the provincial court and not to the restorative-justice system, his probation is to take place away from the nation.”

Jack must also host a community dinner and apologize for his actions, and his harvesting rights for anything in the territory have been suspended.

“This is about the nation, it’s not about one individual,” Doiron said. “It’s sad that it had to come to this, but at the end of the day, you have to be on top of it.”

Jack’s offence happened between Nov. 1 and Dec. 13 in 2013. Elk poaching is an ongoing issue among the Ucluelet and other first nations represented by the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council.

More than 20 elk have been poached in Nuu-chah-nulth territory since 2013.

Some of the first nations have stopped using elk for food or ceremonial purposes because of concerns about their low numbers.

jwbell@timescolonist.com