By Chelsea Laskowski

A Key First Nation band councillor will remain in custody for at least a week after appearing in Yorkton court on fresh drug charges on Wednesday.

Clarence Papequash, 64, was arrested “without incidence” before the sun rose on Tuesday morning, said Kamsack RCMP detachment Staff Sergeant Greg Todd.

The arrest was made in connection with a Controlled Drug and Substance Act search warrant that was being executed at Papequash’s residence, Todd said.

The home on Key First Nation, which is near Norquay in south-east Saskatchewan, was at the centre of an hours-long search and seizure that started around 4:45 a.m. that day.

Officers made a number of seizures from the home, including firearms and other items that are “all controlled substance, mainly in a pill form. I don’t want to say what they are and be mistaken,” Todd said.

“What we ended up doing in consultation with the drug unit here in the province, we have laid five charges of possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking and then there’s some firearms-related offences and a possession of stolen property offence also.”

In total, Papequash now faces 10 charges.

When asked if anyone else is under investigation, Todd said “at this time, this has to do only with Clarence Papequash.”

Papequash was elected as a band councillor in October of 2016 after a two-and-a-half year absence from First Nations politics.

He had been chief of Key First Nation until May of 2014, but resigned from his position when he entered a guilty plea to a drug trafficking charge that dated back to 2010.

Papequash had been an addictions counsellor at the time, and he facilitated the sale of half a morphine pill to an RCMP officer who had been involved in a six-month undercover operation.

Current Key Chief Rodney Brass initially declined to comment on Papequash’s standing as a band councillor, but after speaking with RCMP said he would be taking immediate action to suspend Papequash for the allegations of criminal activity.

Brass said he knows “the expectation is for him to be removed right away,” but said Key must look into the proper protocol under the band’s rules and under Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada rules before proceeding.

“Right now we are reviewing all options,” he said.

Key First Nation’s struggles with drugs and alcohol are well documented. Brass speaks openly to youth in the community about his own past addictions.

With that in mind, Todd said “I think this (arrest) was a good thing for the community.”

Papequash is scheduled to be at Yorkton Provincial Court for a bail hearing on Feb. 22.

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