By Jacob Cardinal.
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
In January of 2022, the Metis National Council (MNC) filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit in the Ontario Superior Court against:
– The Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF); former MNC president Clement Chartier; current MMF president and former MNC vice-president and minister of finance David Chartrand; former MNC executive director Wenda Waytteyne; and at least a dozen other individuals.
Newly-elected MNC president Cassidy Caron released a statement in late January saying that an audit of the MNC had “uncovered agreements, contracts and consultation arrangements that may be questionable in nature.”
Based on the findings and consultation with legal counsel, the lawsuit was filed.
The MNC alleges that the previous administration operated a scheme that caused financial damage to the organization, while bettering the position of the MMF on the national stage.
The statement of claim reads in part, “MNC’s claims arise from a scheme perpetrated by each of Chartier, Chartrand, MMF and Watteyne in the Province of Ontario to intentionally cause severe financial harm and other injury to MNC, and to correspondingly benefit, among others, themselves, upon their departures from MNC in the summer of 2021.”
Clement Chartier was the president of the MNC from 2003 to 2021.
Shortly after his departure, Chartier was hired by the MMF to act as an ambassador for international and inter-nation relationships for a “new government” the MMF was reportedly forming.
The statement of claim alleges that the defendants had, “embarked upon a scorched earth policy to intentionally cause financial harm and other injury to MNC, recognizing that MNC and MMF would now be competing to be the legitimate or recognized authority and voice of the Metis Nation going forward.”
The lawsuit is reportedly seeking $15 million in damages, as well as $1 million in punitive damages.
MNC president Caron said of the matter, “We need to understand what happened at the MNC prior to my election. We deserve truth, we deserve justice, and we deserve to put a period on the past and we deserve to finally move forward together.”
While many issues were brought up in the lawsuit, some of the more notable accusations by the MNC include: $1.5 million in wrongfully paid lump sums, inappropriate severance payments, and the transfer of a “vital” database of archival and genealogical materials to the MMF without approval of board members.
None of the allegations have been proven.
However, the national zeitgeist seems to favour the the Caron administration as the Metis Nations of Saskatchewan, Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia have all issued statements in support of the MNC’s decision to take legal action.
Audrey Poitras, president of the Metis Nation of Alberta, released a statement that said, “As a governing and founding member of MNC, the Metis Nation of Alberta fully supports President Caron and the MNC Board of Governors’ decision to take action.
“We are obligated to do what is right and necessary to restore accountability, transparency, and integrity to the MNC by moving forward with this litigation with a view to ensuring transparency and accountability and holding individuals responsible for their actions.”
Meanwhile, current MMF president Chatrand spoke to APTN, stating that the audit to which Caron was provided does not exist.
“If you have an audit, (if) you have so much you want to sue MMF, you want to sue David Chartrand, you want to sue Clement Chartier, you want to sue them, you believe it’s valued at $15 million, show us,” said Chartrand.
“You should have nothing to hide, nothing to fear because it scared you. It should scare all of us then.”
“There is no audit, that’s what I’m telling you,” he said.
Jacob Cardinal is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the ALBERTA NATIVE NEWS . The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.