Chiefs of Ontario send cease and desist letters to suspected sources behind ‘APTN Investigative Report’

Minutes before a scheduled interview with the Chiefs of Ontario regional chief was to begin APTN received a cease and desist letter from the organization’s lawyer.

The lawyer said APTN was in possession of confidential documents that were damaging to the organization.

They knew this because APTN had told them when requesting an interview. The documents included financial reports, internal emails and workplace harassment complaints that showed the organization was under a financial and organizational restructure, as well grappling with complaints from two former female employees – one alleging her sexuality was targeted.

“I write to urge you not to further facilitate the breaches of privacy and confidentiality that have already occurred, and to refrain from distributing unlawfully obtained, retained, and distributed information,” Katherine Hensel wrote Aug. 22.

“Further, the person or persons who provided them to you has breached their obligation of confidentiality to the organization, and may be liable contractually and in equity for so doing.”

Read the letter the COO sent here: Release of Confidential Information and Documents to Media

APTN didn’t respond to the letter and the interview proceeded as scheduled with Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald who first asked for the motive of APTN to be asking questions.

The story ran five days later.

That same day a letter went out to chiefs, which was just recently given to APTN.

Archibald had alerted leadership to APTN’s story but also that she suspected who the sources were.

“Out of an abundance of caution, and in order to do as much as possible to protect the privacy of past and present employees, cease and desist letters have been sent to the individuals we suspect being responsible for the release of confidential information,” wrote Archibald.

Archibald also reached out to their “funding partners”. Indigenous Services provides most of the funding and did the financial review in July that found the organization was running a deficit of more than $1.3 million that was growing at $50,000 a month.

“The article released earlier today also stated that the organization is bleeding money monthly on a large scale,” said Archibald. “I wish to assure you that by addressing this issue cooperatively, with the Board and senior management team, we have stabilized the organization since I took office by instituting sound fiscal management and I’m leading the organization through fiscal restraint and proper management of all resources.

“My goal is to eliminate the deficit by March 31, 2019. I am currently working collaboratively with our funding partners on ensuring that the financial health of the organization continues, and is strengthened, balanced and stable going forward.”

Investigative Reporter

Kenneth Jackson is an investigative reporter in Ottawa, Ont. with more than two decades in the business. He got his start in community newspapers before joining the Ottawa Sun in 2007 where he worked the police beat. In 2011, Jackson joined APTN to break the Bruce Carson scandal. The former senior aide to Prime Minister Stephen Harper tried using his contacts in the federal government to sign water deals with First Nations. The RCMP would charge Carson with influence peddling based on APTN’s reporting. The case would make it all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, which upheld his conviction in 2018. In recent years, Jackson has focused, almost exclusively, on the child welfare system in Ontario. The work has earned multiple awards, including the 2020 Michener Award.

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