The Grand Chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Northern Ontario’s largest Indigenous political organization, was removed from office Thursday after its chiefs-in-assembly reviewed a report into misconduct allegations against him.
“After review of the investigation report, and hearing from Derek Fox, NAN chiefs-in-assembly accepted the report and directed that Derek Fox is to be removed from the position of grand chief,” NAN said in a statement.
One of the chiefs present said 34 out of 36 chiefs at the review voted to terminate the grand chief, and that Mr. Fox failed to show any remorse or apologize. The Globe and Mail is not naming the chief because they were not authorized to discuss internal deliberations.
Mr. Fox’s lawyer did not return a request for comment.
Mr. Fox was suspended at the end of February in a move by the deputy grand chiefs for allegedly violating the organization’s code of conduct.
The NAN chiefs later supported that suspension, which Mr. Fox refused to accept, stating that he was still grand chief.
Mr. Fox came under fire last December when he was called out for allegations of abusive behaviour toward Indigenous women by another chief at the Assembly of First Nations chiefs meeting in Ottawa. That prompted managerial staff at NAN to write a letter to the organization’s human-resources department and health and safety committee requesting support for any staff who might have been triggered by the calling-out incident.
In a heated 23-minute secret audio recording of a meeting with the former grand chief and his staff, he demanded that the staff member who wrote the letter be fired because she triggered him.
Mr. Fox also filed a defamation lawsuit against Chief Jeffrey Copenace of Onigaming First Nation, not affiliated with NAN, for his comments at the AFN assembly last winter.
Nishnawbe Aski Nation is a political organization representing 49 First Nations in Northern Ontario, handling multimillion-dollar files for health transformation and other projects meant to improve the quality of lives and protect inherent rights of Indigenous people living in the remote North.
A by-election for a new grand chief will take place in 30 days.