Board at Native Women’s Association of Canada parts ways with CEO Lynne Groulx


The board at the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) says it has parted ways with its CEO Lynne Groulx.

“As of today (April 12) Lynne Groulx is no longer employed as NWAC Chief Executive Officer,” said an email sent to staff. The email also said the board wishes Groulx “well in her future endeavours.”

APTN has reached out to NWAC multiple times for comment including calls to the president and numerous members of the board. No one was willing to comment.

Groulx, a member of the Métis Nation of Ontario according to her X bio, was hired by NWAC in 2016 as CEO.

“Leaving the role, you love is always difficult,” said Groulx in a statement posted by NWAC. “It has been an honour and incredible journey leading NWAC and contributing to its success.

“I am immensely proud of what we have accomplished together and am confident in NWAC’s future. It was a privilege to have served in this role. That said, I am very excited about the prospects of my new role, leading a new enterprise that focuses on social business and Indigenous prosperity.”

According to the email from the board, Nicole Richmond will take over interim CEO duties.

In the past couple of weeks, NWAC has been in turmoil after news broke that it laid off half of its workforce.

At the time, the organization blamed cutbacks by the federal government.

“There are decisions that are made by the government to either not renew funding or cut funding, and that decision this year has been very significant and for NWAC much more than previous years,” Groulx told APTN on April 1.

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‘Over the top’: Native Women’s Association of Canada embroiled in controversy

According to Groulx, the organization let go of 75 employees because the federal government’s funding went from $48 million down to $10 million.

But there are also allegations of a hostile workplace and employees being punished for seeking protection through a union drive.

“Well, the Native Women’s Association of Canada is not an Indigenous-led organization,” Crystal Semaganis, who worked at NWAC from 2021 to 2023 told APTN. “I have been to the headquarters at NWAC several times over the last few years and what I noticed is there is very few Indigenous women on staff.

“And I just felt there was a lot of colonial violence happening within my employment and within my regular expectations of being an employee.”

Semaganis suggested a new NWAC headquarters across the river from Ottawa in Gatineau, Que., and the construction of a new healing lodge in Chelsea, Que., send the wrong message.

“I have been allowed supervised visits to the mansion in the Gatineau Hills. It is over the top, very elaborate with an indoor pool – very, very, you know, five-star kind of facility. Very expensive.”

Ellen Gabriel, a former president of Quebec Native Women, said it appeared NWAC has lost its way.

“I think more than anything it makes me feel sad,” Gabriel said Monday. “Because women who started the Indigenous women’s rights movement – like Mary Two-Axe Earley and all those women – they’ve really fought hard to get equality of rights for Indigenous women under the Indian Act.”

With files from Fraser Needham. 

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