Advertisement

NAN Grand Chief Derek Fox removed from office due to code of conduct allegations

Derek Fox, shown in Toronto on March 9, has officially been removed from office as grand chief of Nishnawbe Aski Nation, which represents 49 First Nations in northern Ontario. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)
Derek Fox, shown in Toronto on March 9, has officially been removed from office as grand chief of Nishnawbe Aski Nation, which represents 49 First Nations in northern Ontario. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)

Derek Fox has officially been removed as grand chief of Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN), more than two months after being suspended for alleged violations of NAN's code of conduct.

NAN, which represents 49 First Nations in northern Ontario, released the news in a statement late Thursday afternoon following a special in-camera meeting among its chiefs.

"On behalf of the leaders of Nishnawbe Aski Nation, we confirm today that chiefs-in-assembly have, by way of resolution, ordered that Derek Fox be removed from the Office of Grand Chief due to his violations of the NAN Executive Council Code of Conduct while in office as grand chief," it reads.

The position has been declared vacant. A byelection will be called within 30 days, in accordance with NAN's bylaws.

NAN territory encompasses James Bay Treaty No. 9 and the Ontario portion of Treaty No. 5, a landmass covering two-thirds of the province.

Internal, independent investigations conducted

Fox's suspension Feb. 26 was immediately followed by an internal investigation, and then an independent, third-party investigation was ordered after an emergency meeting on March 9.

"Chiefs have directed NAN to review the [investigation] report's recommendations and create an implementation process for their enactment," the statement Thursday said.

"In view of the very challenging times faced by NAN leadership and staff, the executive council will work to strengthen existing staff supports (including culturally appropriate measures) with a view to ensuring a safe work environment for all at NAN."

The statement said NAN isn't making any further comments at this time.

In an interview with CBC News days after his suspension, Fox called for a new election to be held.

"It appears that the NAN executive is inoperative [and] dysfunctional," he said in early March. "We have a duty to work together, a duty to advocate and do all those things, and that's not happening right now … we as a group could not work together as we were elected to do."

A spokesperson with NAN would not provide CBC News a copy of the executive council's conduct code, any more details about the alleged violations or who ordered the suspension when a request was made in March.

Fox filed defamation suit vs. Treaty 3 chief

However, CBC News did obtain a copy of the defamation lawsuit Fox filed in January against Jeff Copenace, chief of Ojibways of Onigaming, a First Nation in Treaty 3 that is not part of NAN.

The lawsuit was filed after a speech made by Copenace in December 2022 during the Assembly of First Nations Special Chief's Assembly in Ottawa.

Copenace alleged Fox "beat one of our own Treaty #3 women chiefs," and that two years ago, he saw texts from a 25-year-old women to Fox "begging him to stop harassing her," according to the lawsuit, which quoted Copenace's speech.

In the lawsuit, Fox denies Copenace's allegations.

The allegations "falsely and maliciously slander" Fox, and have and will continue to damage his reputation, according to the lawsuit.