A Federal Court judge ruled late today that Chief Ken Henry and the council elected in October comprise the legitimate government of the Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation.
The decision was made after a court hearing before Justice Marie Josée Bédard earlier in the day.
"We were worried about what was going on with our governing structure," a delighted Henry said. "We got word around 3, and this means we have the whole authority to govern as we need to."
The ruling means there will likely be no referendum in two weeks.
Federal Aboriginal Affairs officials ordered a referendum to ask about 1,400 eligible voters to decide how they want their elections to be called, by the Indian Act or custom council.
Ottawa stepped in after the First Nation’s custom council ousted Chief Terry Nelson and his council, and called a new election that brought in Henry and left the community with two rival chiefs and councils.
Banks responded by freezing the First Nation’s bank accounts on an $80-million compensation settlement won by Nelson.
"There are a lot of angry people in the community, and they were never allowed a say in who governs them. What option do they have now?" Nelson asked.