The Executive Council of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) has suspended its president, Francyne Joe.
“Francyne Joe has been suspended as President by NWAC’s Executive Council as of June 18th, 2019,” said Steven Pink, senior director of legal and communications in an emailed statement to APTN News.
NWAC said it appointed Gail Paul as interim president until a vote can be held at a future date.
“In order to protect Francyne Joe’s privacy, NWAC will not comment on the reasons for the suspension,” the statement added.
The suspension comes after months of internal strife at the organization.
In April, the problems between Joe and NWAC CEO Lynn Groulx went public.
“While I cannot discuss the details, I can say there is tension in the relationship between Francyne Joe and myself,” Groulx said in an email to APTN in April.
“In spite of every effort I have made to try and resolve these issues – including an intervention from our Elders in a healing circle.”
Even employees at NWAC have been speaking out about the issues inside the Ottawa office.
Several sources who spoke to APTN in April on condition of anonymity because they feared for their jobs, said major changes are needed if the organization hopes to fulfill the vision of helping Indigenous women across the country.
They allege people running the organization are ignoring staffing issues and turning a blind eye to problems in the workplace.
“Clearly staff are in critical distress,” one of the sources told APTN.
NWAC’s board held a meeting in June to determine if Joe would remain in her role. But that special meeting was adjourned when not enough members attended.
NWAC’s executive council cannot vote Joe out but it has the power to suspend her.
(NWAC CEO Lynn Groulx)
APTN asked Paul at a meeting she attended in Saskatchewan what she thought of Joe’s suspension.
“It’s an internal matter and I’m not prepared to talk about it,” she said.
Francyne Joe was unavailable for comment.
Blocking on social media
Joe’s suspension came to light after it was learned NWAC was blocking former and current employees on social media platform Twitter.
Anna Thomas, the second vice president of NWAC, said she was blocked from the organization’s Twitter account @NWAC_CA.
Thomas, who goes by the handle @crazibeauty75, tweeted: “Blocking me was probably the most immature display of social media behaviour I have ever seen.”
She called out NWAC on Twitter saying “@NWAC_CA blocked me because I tweeted about the ED (Lynne Groulx) using it for her own PR.”
Former employees, who asked to remain anonymous due to non-disclosure agreements they say they signed, claim they’ve also been blocked for confronting NWAC online.
One told APTN they were blocked for confronting NWAC online.
APTN reached out to NWAC for comment on the blocked social media accounts but did not receive a response by the time this article was published.