Nearly four weeks after a Manitoba court judge ruled that the provincial government had the authority to seize control of the controversial Dakota Chundee Smoke Shop near Pipestone, the building remains under the control of Canupawakpa Chief Frank Brown.
But the business has been closed since the ruling — by Brown himself.
"We got it closed," Brown told the Sun on Thursday. "I don’t want to give them the opportunity to come there and say, ‘hey this is contempt of court’ and seize the property.
"It’s not because I’m honouring the province. I still won’t honour the province until they produce the documents we requested."
Keyser hit Brown with a $10,000 fine and Blacksmith was ordered to pay $1,500. Smoke, however, was given a pass from Keyser after he told the court he no longer wants to be associated with the business.
Notice of the court order was to have been posted on the property immediately following the court date, but Brown says no document ever appeared on the outside of the building.
However, he did note that an official government representative had come to the property in the days that followed the court ruling, only to find the smoke shop closed.
"I think it was the day after the court thing," Brown said. "I guess they thought it was open. But it was locked. I went there after but there was nothing posted on the door."
The smoke shop did open for a few days after the province was told it could seize the building, but Brown told them to close it down while he works with his U.S.-based legal council in advance of the next slated court date on Dec. 10.
"I want to see how far they’re going to come. If they don’t seize it, we’ll open it again.
"They raided us five times, they charged us several times and now they fined me $10,000. How far are they going to go? Are they going to put me in jail? Are they going to seize those properties? That’s what I mean."
Since opening in November of 2011, 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 federally licensed Mohawk cigarettes without a provincial licence and it does not remit taxes to the province.
The Chundee store was created as 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.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition November 30, 2012