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Former grand chief accused of harassment and intimidation

Ex Nishnawbe Aski Nation deputy grand chief Anna Betty Achneepineskum says seven women have come forward with complaints.

THUNDER BAY – A former Nishnawbe Aski Nation deputy grand chief is lobbing accusations of sexual harassment and intimidation at former grand chief Stan Beardy.

Anna-Betty Achneepineskum, who was ousted from her elected post earlier this summer, claims seven people have come forward with statements against Beardy, who spent 12 years as grand chief from 2000 to 2012 and three more as Ontario regional chief.

He’s the current chief of his home community, Muskrat Dam First Nation.

“There weren’t any charges of sexual assault in this investigation, but (they) are very serious because it includes intimidation, where individuals had to leave their jobs and their community,” Achneepineskum said in an interview on Friday with Thunder Bay Television.

Her claims, which have not been ruled criminal, led to a NAN investigation spearheaded by Indigenous lawyer Donald Worme.

Both Worme and Beardy were contacted for comment for this story, but did not immediately return phone calls.

Anchneepineskum, who held the murdered and missing Indigenous women’s portfolio while she was a NAN deputy grand chief, said she felt she had to speak up given the work she’d done in both suicide prevention and finding ways to help Aboriginal youth empower themselves.

“Sexual violence and gender violence is an issue that is an underlying issue and we need to address this. And we need to start working with processes to deal with this – including building accountability. And that’s all we’re trying to do here, to hold someone accountable for behaviours that affected many individuals,” Achneepineskum said.

“I am aware and I know as this continues, especially with the media now taking an interest in this, that there will be other individuals that will come forward. We, including NAN, will support these individuals.”

Achneepineskum said the complaints dated back as far as 2009 and range to as recently as a few months ago.

She added she reached out to Beardy in writing, but was initially ignored in her request to work together to sort the situation out.

Achneepineskum made it clear she's not looking for Beardy to be punished criminally -- nor did she suggest it would be warranted.

“A legal opinion was provided to (complainants) of their options, but that was our objective, to initiate a community healing strategy and having Stan Beardy be a part of this.”

Achneepineskum said Beardy eventually responded, saying in a letter delivered the day before the NAN elections this summer that he planned to file a lawsuit against the existing NAN executive.

“It was very disturbing. I had hoped that he was going to come forward and accept responsibility, but instead we had resistance from him.”

None of the allegations have been independently verified by and no charges have been laid.

The story was first reported by CBC Thunder Bay.

Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith is Dougall Media's director of news, but still likes to tell your stories too. Wants his Expos back and to see Neil Young at least one more time. Twitter: @LeithDunick
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