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AFN ex-CEO was sued by Indigenous health org over alleged ‘reckless’ payout in 2011

AFN ex-CEO was sued by Indigenous health org over alleged ‘reckless’ payout in 2011

A former CEO of the Meeting of First Nations who was in cost when an AFN official allegedly acquired an almost $200,000 payout was sued in 2011 by a now-defunct Indigenous well being group over her alleged provide of a “giant and unwarranted” payout to an official there, in keeping with paperwork obtained by CBC Information.

Paulette Tremblay, a Six Nations of the Grand River member who lives in Ottawa, served because the AFN’s CEO between September 2017 and January 2020.

The Nationwide Aboriginal Well being Group (NAHO) sued her on Oct. 27, 2011, 5 months after she ceased to be its CEO, after its chief monetary officer Jason Cheney launched a courtroom bid to gather a $112,452 payout he claimed Tremblay supplied him.

NAHO countersued Cheney and added Tremblay to the go well with, claiming it withheld Cheney’s money after the not-for-profit’s board got here to consider the duo orchestrated the cost by means of collusion, “deceit and/or fraudulent misrepresentations” of information.

Tremblay mentioned she denies the accusations, though she didn’t file a defence.

“At first I wish to state unequivocally that there was no wrongdoing on my half in performing my job capabilities on the Nationwide Aboriginal Well being Group,” she wrote in a letter to CBC Information.

“Having left NAHO in July 2011, I used to be utterly unaware of any actions of the group associated to the worker talked about. I didn’t know in regards to the lawsuit and the case was closed by the point it got here to my consideration, so it was not potential to offer a defence.”

Within the beforehand unreported lawsuit, NAHO alleged Tremblay permitted an modification to Cheney’s contract after which, shortly after, terminated that contract whereas providing him one yr’s wage as severance — all with out disclosing this info to the board.

NAHO alleged Cheney ready his personal cheque, Tremblay signed it, and Cheney then utilized the signature block of NAHO’s treasurer Oliver Okemow to it “with out Okemow’s information or consent” to acquire the money.

The lawsuit claimed NAHO then found and withheld the cost, calling it “reckless, wholly unwarranted and clearly opposite to the very best pursuits of NAHO.”

NAHO alleged Tremblay and Cheney dedicated “unconscionable” breaches of coverage, fiduciary obligation, loyalty and belief. The declare mentioned Tremblay’s actions “put the group’s existence in jeopardy” and “positioned the monetary stability of NAHO in danger.”

The allegations have been by no means confirmed in courtroom. 

The case reached a mediated out-of-court settlement on Nov. 25, 2011, filings say. CBC Information was unable to be taught the settlement’s particulars regardless of asking Tremblay and making repeated makes an attempt to contact Cheney and different events.

The go well with was dismissed with out prices on April 2, 2012 with consent from all concerned, together with Tremblay, who signed a doc agreeing to the dismissal.

NAHO closed its doorways on June 30, 2012 after it discovered Stephen Harper’s Conservative authorities had slashed its annual funding of $4.4 million.

The Tories mentioned NAHO’s “governance challenges” contributed to the cuts.

Tremblay honoured in 2019

Tremblay has had a profitable profession as an govt and public administrator since then. She acquired an Indspire award for schooling in 2015 and joined the AFN in 2016. 

The AFN introduced her upcoming departure as CEO on Dec. 4, 2019 throughout its annual winter gathering, the place then-national chief Perry Bellegarde honoured her work in a blanket ceremony.

Within the months following Tremblay’s departure, the AFN discovered of an “irregularity” round a contract modification and payout that allegedly occurred whereas Tremblay nonetheless labored there, in keeping with an inner AFN briefing observe dated Oct. 30, 2020.

Nationwide Chief RoseAnne Archibald has introduced this briefing observe or distributed it amongst an unknown variety of AFN chiefs on at the very least two events. She confirmed it first to the Chiefs of Ontario, which advocates on behalf of 133 First Nations, throughout an in-camera session at their February 2021 gathering, paperwork verify.

The briefing observe later leaked to the media, together with a confidential decision the Ontario chiefs carried demanding a evaluation of the AFN’s monetary insurance policies and contracting practices. The AFN govt later voted to not fee the evaluation.

On July 1, 2022, Archibald emailed the briefing observe to dozens of AFN chiefs throughout the nation as she pressed for a forensic audit. She additionally distributed screenshots of inner AFN emails, a confidential chronology of occasions, and monetary statements detailing two years’ value of AFN contract recipients.

“Hooked up are paperwork and emails which in my opinion present corruption and collusion on the AFN Secretariat,” her e mail mentioned.

Archibald is going through two defamation lawsuits due to this e mail and this assertion. 

The allegations haven’t been examined and no defences have been filed. CBC Information has independently obtained the e-mail and its connected paperwork. 

Archibald’s e mail included a memo she wrote the chiefs outlining why she felt the audit essential. This memo mentioned the AFN’s govt committee of nationwide and regional chiefs was referred to as for an pressing assembly in October 2020 the place the briefing observe was introduced. 

In the course of the assembly, they have been advised an worker had transferred almost $200,000 from the AFN account to their private checking account in 2019, in keeping with the memo.

Archibald mentioned the AFN acquired exterior authorized recommendation from a human assets lawyer who “advised us that we would have liked to NOT say something” about what occurred, which APTN Information beforehand reported.

“On the time, I mentioned that this was flawed and that we had an obligation to disclose the reality of what occurred,” Archibald wrote.

Briefing observe

The briefing observe itself is marked confidential and signifies the AFN’s present CEO Janice Ciavaglia requested and drafted it.

It mentioned a senior AFN worker acquired a $191,134 “retiring allowance payout” on Aug. 19, 2019 adopted by a part-time contract to proceed working. It mentioned it was “unclear” why the AFN would pay out an worker who resigns from full-time employment however then continues to work.

It additionally mentioned in summer season 2020 the AFN discovered an AFN director acquired a revised employment contract that “considerably altered” their severance entitlements on Nov. 27, 2019, so the director would obtain a minimal of six months discover upon termination with out trigger.

Meeting of First Nations Nationwide Chief, RoseAnne Archibald, speaks throughout her closing tackle on the Meeting of First Nations Particular Chiefs Meeting in Ottawa, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022. (Spencer Colby/The Canadian Press)

The briefing observe advisable the AFN dismiss these two staff with out trigger to restrict additional bills, publicity, litigation, reputational harm and potential funding cuts that would stem from an audit uncovering the irregularity.

The briefing observe named Tremblay together with the 2 staff whose contracts have been terminated. Tremblay didn’t obtain the contract or payout, however signed the revised contract with the AFN director, in keeping with the observe.

Archibald shared this doc with chiefs with redactions each instances.

“I might counsel that you simply request the unredacted model from the AFN Secretariat,” she wrote to them in July.

Nonetheless, it’s nonetheless potential to see the three staff’ names by means of the tried redactions. CBC Information is naming solely Tremblay as a result of she was the senior official and since the opposite two staff couldn’t be reached for remark.

Tremblay, who’s now CEO of an AFN-funded group, mentioned she has not seen the briefing observe however is unable to remark as a result of points referring to employees are a human assets matter and sure by privateness and confidentiality.

“In all my dealings with the AFN I’ve adopted the insurance policies, procedures and pointers and processed all such issues by means of the AFN Govt Committee. Who on the AFN is implicating me in these issues?” she wrote.

Archibald on a number of events advised CBC Information she couldn’t touch upon this matter as a result of a chiefs’ decision restrains her from discussing inner AFN points publicly. CBC Information contacted Ciavaglia to debate the briefing observe however the AFN provided a press release as an alternative.

“For causes of privateness and confidentiality, the AFN doesn’t touch upon human useful resource issues concerning its employees,” the assertion mentioned.

“The AFN is unable to verify the weather of any confidential briefing observe, as we weren’t supplied with a duplicate of the doc in your possession.”

CBC Information supplied to offer Ciavaglia with the doc if she wished to debate it however the AFN refused additional remark.

Ciavaglia responded individually by means of her lawyer but additionally declined to reply questions.