Advertisement

Former First Nation president claims he was unfairly ousted

Former Tahltan Central Government president Chad Norman Alexander Day is suing the government he used to lead for breach of contract. (Chad Day - image credit)
Former Tahltan Central Government president Chad Norman Alexander Day is suing the government he used to lead for breach of contract. (Chad Day - image credit)

The recently-resigned president of a First Nation whose territory covers more than 10 per cent of B.C. is suing his former government for breach of contract over what he claims was a campaign of bullying forcing him out of his job.

In a lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court last week, Chad Norman Alexander Day claims he was the subject of "harsh, oppressive, high-handed and reprehensible" behaviour by political opponents determined to undermine his authority.

Day told the CBC Tuesday that it was a difficult decision to sue the government he has served as president for the past decade.

"I am extremely concerned and saddened by the state of things," Day said. "I'm not happy that we had to take these steps. I'm not happy that this [Tahltan Central Government] board has created a work environment which has become unbearable."

'Bullying and accusatory behaviour'

The Tahltan First Nation is an important player in British Columbia's mining community, with title and rights to a mineral-rich area Day has compared to the size of Portugal.

Day was first elected president in 2014, winning re-election in 2016, 2019 and 2022. In addition to the elected role, the lawsuit says the job of president also came with an employment contract setting Day's salary at $210,000 a year in 2022.

Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government, hugs B.C. Mining Minister Josie Osborne at an event announcing the agreement.
Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government, hugs B.C. Mining Minister Josie Osborne at an event announcing the agreement.

Former president of the Tahltan Central Government Chad Day hugs B.C. Mining Minister Josie Osborne at the announcement of a historic agreement with the province in November 2023. (Government of B.C./Flickr)

Last November, Day and provincial leaders made headlines — and history — by signing a consent-based decision-making agreement between the Tahltan Central Government (TCG) and the province in relation to the future operation of the Red Chris gold and copper mine.

But according to a notice of civil claim filed last week, in the months before that deal was inked, Day says he "began to experience bullying and accusatory behaviour" from members of the executive committee including "false accusations of conflict of interest."

Day claims he was targeted by newly elected TCG directors who had "a pre-existing history of antagonism" toward him — among them a woman he says once claimed he was "not fit to be a leader of the TCG because his mother was a 'white' woman."

In May 2023, Day claims the TCG board hired a chief administrative officer who took over operational control of the government — "usurping" his presidential duties and authority.

And on Nov. 23, 2023 — three weeks after the agreement with the province was announced — Day claims he was suspended, placed on paid administrative leave "pending an investigation into certain complaints."

According to the lawsuit, the complaints include "false allegations of conflict of interest in relation to [Day's] father and his businesses."

'Draconian suspension'

In January, Day claims he "demanded that he be reinstated to his duties and reserved the right to treat the TCG's conduct as a constructive dismissal."

A month later his lawyer wrote again to say the particulars of the complaints against him "could not possibly justify the draconian suspension" — but his complaints went nowhere.

The claim says things came to a head last week when Day resigned from his elected role and told the TCG's board their treatment of him amounted to a repudiation of his employment contract.

He is now suing for breach of contract and damages including the loss of salary and benefits as well as aggravated damages for "mental distress and sustained emotional harm and psychological injuries."

Day told the CBC he's "extremely appreciative" the Tahltan people took a chance on him as a young leader, but "extremely disappointed that it's going to end like this after we accomplished so many great things."

The Tahltan Central Government has not filed a response to the claim yet, and did not respond to emails asking for comment.

None of the claims have been proven in court.