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Demand for police apology underscores battle between two chiefs

Then-Papaschase First Nation Chief Calvin Bruneau and an Edmonton Police Service officer at the unveiling of the Pileated Woodpecker mural at the EPS Diversion & Desistance Branch on June 21, 2023. (Credit: Edmonton Police Service) Then-Papaschase First Nation Chief Calvin Bruneau and an Edmonton Police Service officer at the unveiling of the Pileated Woodpecker mural at the EPS Diversion & Desistance Branch on June 21, 2023. (Credit: Edmonton Police Service)
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Correction: In our original reporting CTV News Edmonton referred to Chief Calvin Bruneau as former chief of Papaschase First Nation. Bruneau is the current Chief of a second Papaschase First Nation group. We regret the error.

Papaschase First Nation Association #136 is calling on the Edmonton Police Service to apologize for inviting Calvin Bureau, the Chief of another Papaschase First Nation group, to a ceremony.

Last summer, Edmonton police unveiled a mural of the Pileated Woodpecker on National Indigenous Peoples Day.

Papaschase First Nation Association #136 Chief Darlene Misik claims Bruneau is not a verified descendent of the Papaschase Indian Band and refuses to get DNA testing.

Misik says a genealogist report filed in the Alberta Court of King's Bench was delivered to the EPS two years ago, and says she and other direct descendants were not invited to the ceremony.

"That respect is essential to having a relationship with us because we are from that nation, we are from that band and when we see this kind of thing happening in the face of our complaints, it says we don't matter," Misik told CTV News Edmonton.

A south Edmonton gas station was reopened in 2020 to celebrate Papaschase First Nation.

In court documents Misik claims says the money Bruneau used for the gas station was obtained under false pretenses.

Bruneau denies allegations

Bruneau, who asserts he is the rightful leader of Papaschase First Nation, disputes the allegations about the money used for the gas station.

"Our society qualified for a loan in 2019 from the Social Enterprise Fund in Edmonton and bought the gas station from Suncor. It's a legitimate business transaction."

Bruneau and Misik have been involved in a legal battle to be recognized as the official leader of the First Nation.

In 2022, Bruneau told APTN Papaschase First Nation Association #136 was created in 2019 and that two separate voices caused confusion.

Misik was elected chief of the new association in 2021 and has represented more than 1,200 members, according to APTN.

In March 2023, a judge approved a temporary court injunction Bruneau filed against a number of people, including Misik, which was brought without notice to Misik or her association. The injunction in part prohibited Misik and the group from representing Papaschase First Nation, taking action on its behalf, and speaking to media and governments.

Another judge ended the temporary injunction and refused to extend it, after hearing submissions and evidence from a lawyer for Papaschase First Nation Association #136 in December. Bruneau said he is appealing that decision.

In a statement to CTV News Edmonton, Bruneau said he's been Papaschase First Nation chief since 2011 after he was re-elected Chief of his group in September 2023 for another four years.

Bruneau said the claims about his lineage are false.

"I've been verified by certified genealogists proving that I'm a direct descendant of Chief Papaschase," Bruneau said in an email. "DNA testing is redundant because we don't have DNA material from Chief Papaschase who died over 100 years ago. I can take a DNA and compare it to a verified descendant of Papaschase but it would only prove that I'm a great-grandson of Chief Papaschase and related to the other party." 

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