Members of the Blood Tribe gathered in Stand Off, Alta., over the weekend for a peaceful demonstration to bring awareness to work being contracted out on the reserve.
“Basically what we’re fighting for is to take our work back,” said Beth Day Chief, spokesperson for Blood Tribe contractors and truckers. “This has been going on for years and years and years and finally we said enough is enough.”
Talbera International Technologies Ltd. has an office in Lethbridge and West Aftica. Day Chief says Talbera has been handling capital projects such as buildings, water lines and upgrades to water systems on the Blood Reserve.
In the past, a tender would be put out for contractors to bid on. The successful bidder would get the contract and work within the budget.
Now, Day Chief says that Talbera is listed as the project manager, the consultant and the engineer for most of the projects.
“When you allow somebody to have all those titles ,not only do they control the budget, they also control who gets hired and how much gets spent,” said Day Chief.
Day Chief said that contractors and truckers on the Blood Tribe want accountability from directors, managers and senior management in different departments as to why Talbera was given so much control.
Contractors and truckers in the area say they are capable of doing the work on the Blood Reserve, but Talbera isn’t giving them the chance.
Equipment lined the side of the highway in Stand Off, where the contractors and truckers are petitioning until Monday.
“This is only a portion of the equipment from the contractors and truckers,” said Day Chief. “And when you say we don’t have the experience, a lot of our companies have over 30 years of experience.”
Eugene Fox is a contractor and trucker from the Blood Reserve. He says he’s been doing work in the area since the early 1970s.
“Our ancestors would be very proud of what we’re trying to do,” he said.
They hope that getting work to members of the Blood Tribe will help with unemployment in the area.
“We’re actually helping the economy out here when we hire maybe eight to 10 employees, that helps feed eight to 10 families,” said Day Chief.
“We’re not here because we want a handout,” said Fox. “We’re here because we’re qualified and trained professionals.”
They hope bringing work to the Blood Reserve will also help future generations get work.
“We’re here and we’re not leaving until we better the place for all of us,” said Fox.
With the support of chief and council, a petition was started asking for an internal audit and investigation of all contracts awarded to Talbera from the Blood Tribe.
Members of the Blood Tribe can sign online or in person at the peaceful demonstration.
On Saturday, the petition had garnered more than 600 signatures.
Day Chief says they’re accepting signatures until Tuesday morning. They plan to present the petition to chief and council with the hopes that changes will be made.
“We need the work out here,” she said. “Let’s start looking at our own small business and let’s start hiring our people that are capable.”
Global News has reached out to Talbera for comment but have not received a response.