Windsor

Caldwell First Nation council removes chief effective immediately

Mary Duckworth has been removed as Chief of Caldwell First Nation effective immediately, CBC News has learned. A private memo obtained by CBC said council removed Duckworth as chief over allegations of violations and breaches of policy.

Council members are making allegations of violations and breaches of policy against Mary Duckworth

The Council of Caldwell First Nation has removed Mary Duckworth as chief. (CBC)

Mary Duckworth has been removed as Chief of Caldwell First Nation effective immediately, CBC News has learned.

A private memo obtained by CBC was sent out to Caldwell members on Tuesday. Council of Caldwell First Nation said it removed Duckworth as chief over allegations of violations and breaches of policy.

Duckworth said she plans on making a public statement in the coming days, but confirmed she is no longer the chief of Caldwell First Nation.

The memo also states council appointed Councillor Robyn Perkins as acting chief.

Councillor Robyn Perkins, front left, Mary Duckworth, front right, Councillor James Peters, back left, Councillor Stan Scott, back centre and Councillor Steve Simpson, back right. (Caldwell First Nation)

Since the 2021 elections are just four months away, council decided there will not be a byelection, the memo read.

There has been a tumultuous past between Duckworth and some members of Caldwell First Nation and its council.

In August of 2018, Duckworth was locked out of her office after a sudden return from her "forced leave of absence." She cited "nepotism" as the reason for her leave of absence, but wouldn't provide examples as it was a "legal matter."

A few months prior, four band council members alleged she had breached "fiduciary duty" in a six-page memo sent to band members, which listed the reasons for the allegation:

  • "Acting without authority", in allegedly trying to have a terminated employee keep working on band matters
  • "Conflict of interest", in allegedly suggesting increased pay for a band-hired family member
  • Missing meetings, including the most recent band members meeting
  • Providing a lack of information on Caldwell events and a pension initiative

At the time, Duckworth said she had been instructed by her lawyer not to speak.

Duckworth was elected in January with 77 per cent of the vote, after former chief Louise Hillier was ousted following the release of a forensic audit into a 2016 powwow.

The audit found $247,790 in "unsupported" prize payouts for powwow drummers, dancers, and a $190,000 contract for video services given to a company owned by Hillier's son, done without seeking other bids.

About the Author

Jason Viau is a video journalist, TV host and radio newsreader at CBC Windsor. He was born in North Bay, but has lived in Windsor for most of his life. Since graduating from St. Clair College, he's worked in print, TV and radio. Email him at jason.viau@cbc.ca

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