Hornepayne Elders Face Lawsuit From NAN Over Office Occupation

Elders from the Hornepayne First Nation have been occupying the NAN Head Office on Fort William First Nation since April 8 2015.

Elders from the Hornepayne First Nation have been occupying the NAN Head Office on Fort William First Nation since April 8 2015.

By James Murray in Anishinabek | NNL, Posted 25 May 2015

Office Occupation Leads to Legal Action

Since April 8 2015, Elders from the Hornepayne First Nation have been occupying the Financial Head Office of the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation, located on the Fort William First Nation.

The dispute is over the recognition of the Hornepayne First Nation election.

NAN has been protesting the occupation of their offices. The issue is ramping up now as NAN Corporate Services c.o.b. as Nishnawbe Aski Nation have filed suit in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice against Ron Kocsis and the Hornepayne Elders.

The suit seeks an order from the court prohibiting the Elders from being present in the NAN Head Office as well as the NAN Offices on Victoria Avenue, in Thunder Bay.

NAN is also seeking “An interim and final Order that the Anishinabek Police Service, the Thunder Bay Police Service, the Ontario Provincial Police, and all other police officers in Ontario shall assist the plaintiff in enforcing the Order, and more particularly that the said police officers shall use such means including physical force, as are reasonably necessary to enforce the Order…”

NAN is seeking damages in the amount of $100,000 and punitive damages in the amount of $50,000.

The core of the issue starts with the election of the Hornepayne Chief and Council.

NAN States they Can’t Interfere

NAN stated in a letter to both Ron B. Kocsis and Laura Mederios that, “NAN cannot recognize a Hornepayne Chief until the leadership dispute has been resolved, whether by a final court order or a written agreement. Until that happens no representative from Hornepayne can be registered as NAN member for voting”.

The Elders from Hornepayne content that Chief Laura Mederios has not held and election for over ten years, and that a legal and binding election was held.

In earlier coverage, NetNewsLedger reported on April 17th, “Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Harvey Yesno released the following statement in response to the Hornepayne First Nation election dispute where Mr. Kocsis and a following of people refused to leave the NAN corporate office in Fort William First Nation April 8, 2015 and April 9, 2015. “At this time NAN does not recognize a Chief in Hornepayne until the unresolved leadership dispute between groups represented by Ms. Medeiros and Mr. Kocsis have been resolved.

NAN must remain neutral and cannot favour one group over the other. This will be the NAN position until there is a mutual written settlement or a final court order.”

Both parties were informed by letter February 3rd, 2015 that each First Nation has the responsibility to resolve all internal governance matters via independent mediation at the First Nation’s cost.

NAN does not agree with Mr. Kocsis’ disruptive tactics and was disappointed when Mr. Kocsis refused to attend a meeting organized by the NAN Executive Council for 4pm on April 8 to discuss the issue. NAN staff have been intimidated and work processes have been effected by the occupation.

The issue will now move to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Thunder Bay on May 26th 2015.

Nishnawbe-Aski Nation Head Office on Fort William First Nation

Previous Coverage:

April 9 2015 – Hornepayne First Nation Elders Hold Vigil at NAN Offices

April 17 2015 – Hornepayne Elders Continue to Seek Meeting With NAN