Saskatchewan's top chief suspended with pay
Embattled FSIN chief dismisses 'unlawful' proceeding
A news release issued by the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations says Guy Lonechild is under suspension as chief of the main organization representing First Nations in the province, a move Lonechild vows to fight.
The release, issued Friday followed deliberations by a committee of chiefs examining Lonechild's leadership which was called into question after a drinking and driving charge, laid before he was elected, surfaced.
"Given the issues that have come to light over the last few months, the chiefs throughout the province felt that we should further discuss it," Morley Watson, a vice-chief of the FSIN, told CBC News Friday. "They had that hearing yesterday and as a result of that hearing, they've set September 1st, of this year, to have a vote [on Lonechild's position]."
Watson has taken over the leadership role in the FSIN.
An unspecified number of staff associated with Lonechild were also suspended, with pay.
On Thursday Lonechild issued his own news release saying he believed the process that was being followed, to challenge his position, was "unlawful" and added he might take legal action on the issue.
In his release, Lonechild said he had attended the hearing that was convened by a committee of chiefs to examine the future of his leadership.
However, he said he only showed up to tell committee members that he would not accede to any move by them to remove him from office.
"The main reason I refuse to participate in the proceeding, other than voicing my objection to it, is because many of the members on IGC [Indian Government Commission] already had their minds made up before the hearing even started," Lonechild said in his statement. "That is not fair or impartial. I think that every person is owed a duty of fairness, at the very least."
Lonechild repeated his view that he was duly elected chief and had "fully complied with all FSIN legislation" relating to his role.
He also claimed the process underway to review his leadership falls outside FSIN's established rules.
"The hearing was unlawful," Lonechild said. "It violates our own FSIN legislation and policy, which were put in place to ensure we followed our own Treaty principles of equality, fairness, and respect."
Threatens legal action
Lonechild added he would take the issue to court, if needed.
"I will take all of the legal means at my disposal to ensure that the laws and processes adopted by First Nations are followed according to their spirit and intent," he added.
His release ended with a vow that "whatever actions are taken today, Chief Lonechild remains as the Chief of the FSIN."
Challenges to Lonechild's leadership arose in February after a drinking and driving charge came to light.
Lonechild has repeatedly apologized for the incident, which took place before he was elected chief.
He pleaded guilty and was given a fine and driving suspension.