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Blood Tribe band members struggle to find work on reserve

Members of the Kainai First Nation claim worker’s rights are being ignored on the Blood Reserve.

The Blood Tribe Trucker’s Association says despite a number of construction projects underway in Standoff, members can’t find work because jobs are being contracted to outside businesses.

Band member and owner of Evolution Contracting Services LTD. Roy Sugai tells Global News a lot of members haven’t worked in months.

“People say you don’t work, you just want things handed to you. We’re not asking for a handout here, we’re asking for a job. There’s work here and we can’t get a job. We want to work,” he adds.

Members say they’ve lost a number of competitive bids for projects in the past because they can’t go up against non native organizations.

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According to a member of the Truckers Association, Eugene Fox, members are more than qualified to work the jobs but are expected to do the job for less than outside businesses.

“I certainly don’t agree with taking a lower rate of pay because we’re First Nation. The contractors out here say you’re native you can run for this amount. Where’s our leadership?” he says.

Jim Russell owns Russell Trucking and says members struggle to meet ends meet when they have a right to any work on the reserve.

“We’re all 100 per cent Indian owned companies on the reserve. All of our labor is local. We fuel up on the reserve. We try and keep our money on the reserve as much as we can,” he adds.

Members are now trying to meet with council enforce their right of refusal, a guarantee tribal members can have first hand work coming to the reserve.

Chief Charles Weasel Head says the issue isn’t falling on deaf ears and he’s requesting more information on the issue and complaints.

“I just really need to understand just what the issues are and what the situation is. Like I said if there’s an opportunity to have our contractors go to work, we’ll certainly make every effort to do that,” he adds.

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For now members say they are looking to their chief and council to step in and make some changes to the contracting policies.