‘Bullying’ leads to legal action: FSIN lawyer

“Until this meeting is held, the FSIN will not be commenting further on this matter.”

(Bobby Cameron is seeking another three-year term as head of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations. He won’t comment on recent stories coming from inside the organization.)

Financial staff have been bullied after a long-time employee was filmed using a shredding machine inside the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) this week, a lawyer for the organization said.

The video was posted on Facebook.

Victor Carter said the video was taken without consent Wednesday and shared online.

He said it led to “additional scrutiny and bullying” of staff members.

“Just following directions from the chief,” a woman is heard saying on the fuzzy video shared with APTN News.

Carter said the voice belongs to the person who filmed the video.

And the FSIN is taking “legal action” against them.

“Legal action is being taken against the person who shot the video and the people who posted it online defaming the institution and the employee in the video,” said Vice Chief David Pratt in a statement on Friday.

“The safety and privacy of our staff is paramount in our daily operations and this person deliberately put our employees at risk and violated their personal space and privacy,” said Pratt

“Our business operates like others and shredding confidential documents is the norm for daily and weekly operations.  We want to clarify and confirm that the FSIN is not under criminal investigation and business continues as usual.”

FSIN sent new, at times conflicting, information to APTN via email about what transpired during the first week of a month-long election period for a new chief, first vice chief and third vice chief.

“The video was taken Wednesday the cops came to FSIN on Monday. No police were involved with FSIN on the date the video was taken,” Carter said.

A Saskatoon police spokeswoman told APTN officers responded to a call of “a disturbance” on Sept. 24 but no charges were laid.

Julie Clark said officers remained on the scene.

“We were called to a businesses in the 100 block of Packham Ave. at about 1:20pm on Monday in regard to a disturbance,” she said in an email.

“There were no criminal charges and our officers were there to keep the peace during an internal dispute.”

Clayton Tootoosis, a former FSIN youth representative who posted the video to his Facebook page, was not at the office when the police arrived or when the video was taken but said, as a former FSIN representative, he still knows people working at the offices.

Tootoosis has since taken the video off his Facebook page.

A source said the dispute occurred when Kim Jonathan, who was first vice chief, said she should be interim chief during the election period but had instead been locked out of the office and her email privileges suspended in a story first reported by the Saskatoon Star Phoenix.

FSIN appointed fourth vice-chief Heather Bear interim chief instead but by Sept. 26 had removed that title.

In a statement that day, FSIN’s joint-Indian government commission and executive council said executive operating officer, Dawn Walker, would be in charge instead.

“As our top executive officer Dawn maintains administrative duties. The elected Executive members If FSIN are still in charger FSIN as they are also Directors of our corporate body.”

The commission also said no interim chief would be appointed at this time.

A source said Jonathan, who is not standing for re-election, filed a complaint with police about alleged financial improprieties at FSIN.

But Saskatoon police were unable to confirm that.

“We can’t provide a comment on that at this time,” Clark said.

Tootoosis said the drama was “shameful” behaviour for an organization formed to champion and protect treaty rights.

“All we can do from the outside is watch it crumble under its own weight,” he said via phone from Saskatoon.

“It’s on a path leading to its own self destruction.”

The FSIN represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan with funding provided by the federal government.

Members will elect a new chief, first vice-chief and third vice-chief on Oct. 25.

Jonathan did not respond to a request for an interview.

Two FSIN youth representatives issued their own media release on FSIN letterhead Sept. 26.

Darian Lonechild and Rollin Baldhead said involving the police was “unacceptable” and set a bad example.

“For years the productivity and governance of FSIN has been in question,” they said in the statement.

“We must come together to restructure our nationhood and to be a more effective organization.”

Incumbent FSIN chief Bobby Cameron is seeking another three-year term.

He declined to comment when reached by phone.

His challenger Delbert Wapass said he would call APTN back but didn’t.

APTN contacted all seven candidates running for the three positions.

Corey Bugler, in the race for third vice-chief, said he didn’t know what was happening at FSIN.

“I kind of heard something, but I don’t listen to hearsay,” he said.

Darin Poorman, running for first vice-chief, was confident FSIN was handling the internal strife.

“We have our own organization dealing with it,” he said in a telephone interview.

“We have our own code of conduct. Nothing has been made public.”

Poorman and Bugler said they had not seen the video.

 

 

Online Journalist / Winnipeg

Award-winning reporter Kathleen Martens covers western and northern Canada for aptnnews.ca. A veteran of the Brandon Sun, Sun Media and APTN Investigates, she is based in APTN’s head office, specializing in stories about property, women’s rights and community.

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