Morley Googoo has been removed as the Assembly of First Nations regional vice-chief for Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.
In a news release issued on Friday afternoon, Mi’kmaw chiefs in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland announced its decision to remove Googoo during a special meeting held on Friday. In the release, the chiefs explain they held the meeting “in response to recent events that have occurred during Mr. Morley Googoo’s suspension from his role with the Assembly of Firs Nations.”
“The Nova Scotia and Newfoundland Chiefs continue to support AFN’s ongoing investigation into Mr. Googoo and until a new Regional Chief is selected, the Chiefs of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland will work with AFN to ensure their region is represented and informed,” the news release states.
The news release notes that the chiefs will not be commenting further about their decision at this time.
The AFN regional vice-chief position represents the 13 Mi’kmaw chiefs in Nova Scotia as well as the Mi’kmaw chiefs for the Miawpukek First Nation and Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation in Newfoundland and Labrador.
In response to the Mi’kmaw chiefs’ decision, the AFN issued a statement saying that the AFN executive committee “recognizes and respects” their decision to remove Googoo as regional vice-chief.
According to the statement, “under AFN By-Laws, Mr. Googoo is no longer a Board member of the AFN and the region must appoint or elect a new member.”
The statement did not indicate if the executive committee will continue its own internal investigation into Googoo’s conduct.
The AFN executive committee includes the ten regional vice-chiefs as well as National Chief Perry Bellegarde.
Googoo did not immediately respond to Ku’ku’kwes News’ request for an interview or comment.
Googoo on suspension from AFN executive since Sept. 4
Googoo was suspended with pay from the AFN executive committee on Sept. 4 while it conducted its own investigation into allegations he harassed and discriminated against Indigenous women while he served as the executive chair of the Mi’kmaq-Nova Scotia-Canada Tripartite Forum.
The allegations against Googoo surfaced just before the AFN held its annual general assembly in Fredericton, N.B. in July. A confidential report obtained by Ku’ku’kwes News concluded that Googoo harassed and discriminated against Mi’kmaw women associated with the Tripartite Forum.
According to the report, a complaint was made against Googoo by Cheryl Maloney, the former president of the Nova Scotia Native Women’s Association, while she served as the NSNWA’s liaison to the Tripartite Forum.
In her complaint, Maloney accused Googoo of:
- Attempting to remove her and the NSNWA by trying to force a reorganization of the Tripartite Forum in the fall of 2016
- Making malicious negative remarks about her to First Nation chiefs associated with the Tripartite Forum
- Calling her in Aug. 2017 and subjecting her to threats and verbal abuse for a period of over 20 minutes
The investigator concluded that Googoo’s attempt to reorganize the Tripartite Forum by removing the NSNWA was motivated by retaliation against certain women whom he believed were calling for his removal as executive chair. She also concluded the attempt to reorganize the forum would also have discriminated against Indigenous women in general
The investigator also found that Googoo’s behaved in an aggressive and intimidating manner towards women associated with the Tripartite Forum. One woman became physically ill and was diagnosed with situation depression.
The investigator also concluded that Googoo’s behaviour during his phone call to Maloney amounted to bullying and harassment.
In August, Maloney filed a complaint against Googoo and the executive members of the Tripartite Forum with the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
When reached for comment, Maloney said she wasn’t aware that the Mi’kmaw chiefs in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland were meeting on Friday to decide Googoo’s fate. She said was focusing on establishing a safety plan for her and her family.
Meanwhile, the AFN says it has adopted a code of conduct to “ensure a safe environment, free of violence, discrimination and harassment” and “has zero tolerance for harassment and violence of any kind.”
The AFN code of conduct is expected to be formally signed during the upcoming AFN Special Chiefs Assembly in Ottawa Dec. 3-5.