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Court shuts down First Nations smoke shop, chief handed hefty fine

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A controversial Manitoba smoke shop has been seized from its owners and taken over by the province as part of a unique court order.

Canupawakpa Chief Chief Frank Brown appeared in Winnipeg court Monday morning and was hit with a $10,000 fine after being found in contempt of court for continuing to operate Chundee Smoke Shop near Pipestone the southwest part of the province.

Queen’s Bench Justice Brenda Keyser endorsed a motion that Manitoba’s Attorney General Andrew Swan filed last month. The motion stated that Brown, Dakota Plains Chief Orville Smoke and band member Garth Blacksmith were operating the smoke shop contrary to an injunction ordered by Justice Brenda Keyser on May 30 of this year.

Since opening last November, enforcement officers with Manitoba Finance and members of the RCMP have conducted five raids at the Chundee shop and confiscated thousands of cut-rate Mohawk cigarettes. Following each raid, the business has restocked its shelves and reopened. The store is selling cigarettes without a provincial licence and it does not remit taxes to the province. The store is an attempt to exercise Dakota sovereignty in Canada. The Dakota have a history that predates Confederation in western Canada but no treaty that recognizes them in this country

Brown, along with several other members of the Dakota, made a grand entrance Monday by arriving at the downtown Winnipeg Law Courts on horseback.

"I’m not going to pay it. They can throw me in jail," a defiant Brown told the Free Press outside court.

Blacksmith was also found in contempt Monday and given a $1,500 fine by Keyser. However, Smoke was given a free pass from Keyser after he told court he no longer wants to be associated with the controversial business. He pledged to remove himself from the title and distanced himself from Brown’s position.

"I’m not radical by any means. At this point in time I’m basically on my own here," Smoke told court.

Under Keyser’s ruling, the province will now take possession of the smoke shop. Notices of the court order are to be posted on the property immediately.







Updated on Monday, November 5, 2012 at 11:27 AM CST: Updates with court order.

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