Former chief offers rebuttal to Expositor article

All is not peaches and cream in Sheguiandah First Nation

To the Expositor:

Re: Deputy Chief Georgina Thompson takes the helm at Sheguiandah First Nation (July l5, page 3).

I was so offended by the blatant lies and misinformation in regards to the aforementioned story I found it necessary to respond. It is obvious that the photograph was taken outside of the Expositor office; I can only infer that Councillor Georgina Thompson approached your newspaper for an interview and not vice versa. I would like to state that I do not know which is more disturbing, The Expositor printing a story without verifying and checking its authenticity (why didn’t the writer think to ask how or from where Georgina Thompson derived her authority?) or that Georgina Thompson continues to perpetuate the lie of her being some kind of chief and that everything is peaches and cream in Sheguiandah First Nation (SFN).

Firstly, there is no such thing as deputy chief on SFN. My reserve does not have a custom election code and falls under the jurisdiction of the Indian Act. During the “Hoax of 2012,” I had asked for clarification from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) because we had a rogue band councillor going around claiming to be deputy chief. In a letter dated August 17, 2012, Monique Dion, Director of Governance, INAC, writes that “Subsection 74(2) of the Indian Act states that a band council shall be composed of a chief and councillors. The Indian Act does not mention or identify the position of deputy chief.”

I had previously written to The Expositor in regards to this issue in 2012 and even provided a copy of the letter from INAC, once again I will provide another copy of this letter because obviously it has gotten lost and forgotten. Even the term “councillor” is only used during duly convened council meetings. Once the meeting is over, it’s just “Georgina Thompson.”

Secondly, in regards to Georgina Thompson claiming that, “it’s certainly not something I expected to be doing” is laughable. When we had our election in 2013, it was held on a Saturday and the following Monday Georgina appointed herself to a supervisory role in the band office and has been there ever since. This was done even though SFN receives no funding for her made-up position. It should be noted that Georgina Thompson was calling herself deputy chief long before the passing of Richard Shawanda. (I have correspondence with her made-up title and signature).

Thirdly, given Ms. Thompson’s eight years of experience, one would expect that she would know what the definition of fiduciary responsibility is. A fiduciary responsibility is a sacred trust between a member of council and the members of the First Nation wherein the council member is supposed to act in the best interests of all band members. By unilaterally declaring herself deputy chief, Georgina Thompson has shattered that trust. This article is nothing more than an election ploy and Georgina’s justification for seizing power although there is no legal basis for it whatsoever.

Lastly, I was in attendance at a community meeting on July 8 and it clearly showed how dysfunctional the structure of the band office has gotten in the last 21 months. There was no cohesion or consensus amongst the councillors. Georgina was sharply criticized by the other two councillors for not sharing information and being deceptive. Ms Thompson’s refusal to show expenditures to the other two councillors has resulted in them not signing off on agreements. Georgina’s retort, “I put them in your bins” fell flat! At any time, she could have walked down the hall, retrieved the file and made copies for the councillors but she did not. Deception…I’lI let the court of public opinion decide that one. If the other two councillors are being deceived, the whole reserve is being deceived.

Yours truly,

Orville Aguonie

Sheguiandah First Nation

EDITOR’S RESPONSE: Georgina Thompson was in fact invited to The Expositor Office for an interview with the editor following the passing of Richard Shawanda. During that interview, Ms. Thompson at no point in time referred to herself as ‘deputy chief,’ this was a title given to her by this newspaper for the July 15 story. The editor posed her for the photograph in a location appropriate for natural lighting.