Nova Scotia

AFN execs propose suspension of Morley Googoo after discrimination allegations

Morley Googoo, the Assembly of First Nations regional chief for Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, is accused of bullying, harassing and discriminating against a former leader of the Nova Scotia Native Women's Association.

2018 report found Googoo discriminated against women, bullied and harassed former women's association head

Regional Chief Morley Googoo has 20 days to respond to his proposed suspension by the Assembly of First Nations. (Emma Smith/CBC)

The Assembly of First Nations executive committee has proposed a suspension of the assembly's regional chief for Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, Morley Googoo.

Googoo is accused of bullying, harassing and discriminating against Cheryl Maloney, a former leader of the Nova Scotia Native Women's Association, as well as discriminating against other Mi'kmaw women.

The assembly sent Googoo a letter on Monday informing him of the proposed suspension, which would begin in 20 days.

"This motion is in response to allegations of harassment by yourself towards women in your region," the letter states. "The AFN is committed to ensuring a workplace that is free from harassment and discrimination."

Googoo is permitted to make a written submission in response to the letter. If he fails to do so, the committee will deliberate on the proposed suspension. If Googoo does submit a response, the committee will consider his submission and arrive at a final decision on the suspension within 20 days of receiving his response.

Perry Bellegarde, the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said the assembly has a zero-tolerance policy for harassment, bullying and discrimination. (CBC)

"We have a zero-tolerance policy for any form of harassment, any kind of bullying, any kind of discrimination," National Chief Perry Bellegarde told reporters at the assembly's annual general meeting in Fredericton on Tuesday.

"So we take things very seriously and as leaders we are held to a higher standard."

The allegations against Googoo are contained in a 2018 independent report commissioned by the Tripartite Forum, a federal, provincial and Mi'kmaw government organization. 

A spokesperson for the provincial Office of Aboriginal Affairs, whose minister, Premier Stephen McNeil, is an executive member of the forum, said the province worked with its partners to investigate the claims.

"Nova Scotia took this issue very seriously to ensure it was handled appropriately," said the spokesperson in a statement. "The forum's three partners are working together to ensure the report's recommendations are addressed, which include workplace harassment policies and training."

Googoo resigned from the forum before the report was completed, and has denied the allegations. He did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

Maloney declined an interview with CBC News on Wednesday, but said she has concerns for her safety.

The Nova Scotia Native Women's Association also declined comment, saying the report that contained the allegations and was the basis for the suspension is confidential.

With files from Kayla Hounsell