First Nations chief in Nanaimo suspended by his council

Snuneymuxw Chief John Wesley suspended as First Nation gets ready to head to the polls

Snuneymuxw council has suspended Chief John Wesley until Feb. 1. (NEWS BULLETIN file)

Snuneymuxw council has suspended Chief John Wesley.

The First Nation council suspended its chief last Friday until Feb. 1 next year, claiming an investigation found he breached his fiduciary duty and council governance policy.

Councillor Doug White II was appointed acting chief, according to a notice to SFN membership obtained by the News Bulletin.

The move comes as Wesley seeks a second consecutive term as chief in the Snuneymuxw election, which happens Dec. 2.

According to the notice – confirmed by SFN councillor Doug White III as internal communication between council to members – the decision to suspend Wesley was made after the final report of an investigation by an independent lawyer. Several events were looked into, including the decision by council in 2015 to terminate an employee and another individual who was acting as interim executive director. One of the employees prepared a $5,000 cheque for herself, and one of $15,000 for the other individual, the notice claims, adding that the cheques were not made in accordance with SFN financial procedure and were signed by Wesley and a former councillor.

“The investigation is now complete and the investigation finds that Chief Wesley breached both his fiduciary duty and the standards set out in the SFN council governance policy manual,” council states in the notice. “Council considers Chief Wesley’s breach of fiduciary duty owed to membership to be very serious and that is why the council has made a decision to issue the suspension.”

Council and acting chief said they “appreciate the enormity of this decision” and did not take it lightly and that they have taken steps to ensure “that this does not happen again.”

SFN councillor Doug White III said in a social media message to the News Bulletin that the matter is for the Snuneymuxw community, though he confirmed members were notified by council that a unanimous decision was made to suspend Wesley and appoint Doug White II, his father, as acting chief.

“Actions related to the independent investigation are still underway and until the matter is fully resolved it would be inappropriate to [say] anything further,” he said.

Wesley could not be reached for comment.

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