Federation of Sovereign Inidigenous Nations (FSIN) First Vice-Chief Kimberley Jonathan is claiming she wanted to become the organization’s interim chief in order to freeze bank accounts and assist a Saskatoon police investigation.
Police confirmed Tuesday they have been conducting an investigation into individuals at the FSIN since November 2017, but wouldn’t provide any further details. They said it began after a complaint was brought forward.
In an interview with 650 CKOM Tuesday afternoon, Jonathan said the police probe was looking into alleged “financial irregularities.”
She said several former and current staff members at the organization have conducted video interviews with police and have submitted documents, despite anger from others at the FSIN.
Jonathan was embroiled in a power struggle over the interim chief position last month that saw police called to keep the peace at the FSIN headquarters in Saskatoon.
She had declared herself interim chief at the beginning of the FSIN election period, while administrators named Fourth Vice Chief Heather Bear to the position — citing that while Jonathan wasn’t running for re-election, her position was being voted on so therefore she couldn’t serve.
As a result of the dispute, Jonathan said she had been locked out of her executive email and computer, preventing her from doing her work.
An emergency governance meeting later that week led to a decision to leave the interim chief position vacant.
In her comments Tuesday, Jonathan said she fought for the position because she wanted to help the police investigation.
“(It) would’ve been well within my authority to freeze the finances of FSIN and open the doors to the police to allow them to do their investigation,” she said.
Asked why she waited until now to publicize the police probe, Jonathan said she was working to protect those who came forward to assist investigators.
No charges have been laid in the case.
APTN first reported on the existence of an investigation in early October, prompting a statement from the FSIN on Oct. 4.
In the statement, the FSIN said they were made aware of the police investigation on the evening of Oct. 3. They noted the organization hadn’t been contacted by police to provide statements or to respond to any allegations.
“At this present time, the FSIN has no further comments, due to a lack of information regarding what the complaint is or who it involves,” the statement said, before noting the organization had retained legal counsel “to address any false allegations.”
Jonathan declined to comment when asked if she was the one who first brought allegations forward.
She also called for the federal government to step in and conduct a forensic audit of the FSIN’s books.
“It’s necessary,” she said.