Confusion reigned at Montreal’s Native Friendship Centre last week after rival factions wrestled for control.
The problems started after the election of a new board of directors last month. The new board moved right away to suspend the centre’s two top administrators, placing them under investigation.
The problems were supposed to be discussed at a Nov. 21 community meeting.
But the centre sent out a press release saying the meeting was cancelled. Then a rival group sent out its own press release saying the meeting was still on.
That night, 30 community members gathered outside the centre’s doors, which had been locked.
They had to hold their meeting at a nearby restaurant.
Meanwhile, one of the new board’s members leaked the results of the investigation to The Montreal Gazette.
The investigation found that financial reporting was a little sloppy, but did not make any pronouncements on whether there were any actual improprieties.
Ida LaBillois-Montour, the centre’s suspended executive director, said the investigation has cleared her of wrongdoing.
“I feel comfortable with the report,” she said. “There is nothing in the report that implicates me in anything.”
But that wasn’t the end of the conflict.
She and her assistant, Josianne Wanono, both in their jobs 14 years, still hadn’t been rehired as of press time.
The day after the aborted meeting, the situation got even stranger.
Elation spread among LaBillois-Montour’s supporters when rumours spread that some members of the centre’s new board had resigned. LaBillois-Montour was asked to return to the centre by a board member, which she did.
By the end of the day, however, everything had changed once again. The new board members changed the locks and were seen removing several boxes from the centre at around 9 p.m., said LaBillois-Montour.
On Nov. 23, the new board issued a press release saying that “until further notice,” the centre will be closed “for safety reasons.” That day, no one was answering calls at the centre and a group was gathered outside in the cold, unable to enter.
A meeting is to be held Dec. 8 to discuss the conflict.