The chief of Splatsin First Nation is apologizing for drinking and driving after being issued a roadside driving prohibition over the Canada Day long weekend.
Speaking publicly for the first time about the incident, Kukpi7 (Chief) Doug Thomas issued the following statement:
"Over the July 2022 long weekend, I was pulled over and served an immediate roadside prohibition, which led to a three-month driving suspension.
"To be clear: drinking and driving is not condoned by me nor the people of Splatsin and I accept full responsibility for my error in judgment. I believe this lapse in judgment to be related to the mental health strain I have experienced in my role as Splatsin chief.
"To ensure complete transparency regarding my actions and their effects, I called a Splatsin Community Meeting on Thursday, July 11 to openly discuss this issue with band members. However, due to two deaths in the community at this time, the meeting was rescheduled to Monday, July 22, which was held successfully."
Thomas says the RCMP officer who issued the prohibition was in attendance and provided an objective account of the incident.
The meeting lasted three and a half hours, "and the issue was discussed very thoroughly by all parties," says Thomas.
"I very much appreciated the level of support shown by the community."
Two additional meetings were held to discuss the incident – one with the Assembly of First Nations BC Chiefs and the other with Shuswap Nation Tribal Council Chiefs.
"The feedback from the chiefs addressed the mental health aspects of our roles and established a mandate for any chief to immediately reach out for support when experiencing such challenges in the future. The chiefs of both organizations conveyed their understanding and support and recommended that I continue my duties as Splatsin chief," Thomas continues.
"As a next step, a trained counsellor is now working with me to produce a mental health plan to prevent this type of behaviour from occurring again in the future."
Thomas concludes: "I am fully aware that a core requirement of being elected Splatsin chief is to lead with transparency and integrity, and I sincerely apologize for my error in judgment.
"Though the action itself is not condoned, I am hopeful that Splatsin band members and others will recognize that I accept full responsibility and am committed to taking action to better myself. I am grateful for the support and encouragement that I have received to continue my current role from the Splatsin community and the provincial chiefs – I will not let them down."