Former Gambler First Nation chief Gordon Ledoux says the failure on his First Nation’s part to comply with a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal decision from 2018 means he cannot access health care on-reserve.
In the decision, the tribunal found some of Gordon’s complaints against Gambler were not proven, but that others were. Gambler First Nation was then required to pay Gordon $ 33,500 for a variety of human rights violations, such as discrimination and retaliation, and give him priority status for a house.
Gordon has not received that payment and while Gambler built two new houses recently neither one was assigned to him.
“Apparently he (Chief David LeDoux) has given them away to off-reserve members, who are his supporters. Again, I’m left without a house,” Gordon said.
Gordon resigned as chief in 2012 for health reasons, but ran again in 2018. This pitted brother against his brother. David was elected chief on May 31, 2018 and Gordon appealed that outcome due to alleged cheating. The election committee called a second election for August, which Gordon won.
That matter remains before the Federal Court.
Gordon said these actions related to housing and matters of on-reserve access to health care are his brother’s. It was also David, Gordon told the human rights tribunal, that re-allocated his house when he decided to try out assisted living facility Dakota Oyate Lodge when his health issues accelerated in 2013.
Tribunal member Alex G. Pannu stated in the decision that David’s actions did amount to denying Gordon occupancy of his house by “solidifying Roxanne Brass’ occupancy … by transferring responsibility to her to pay utility bills.”
In the remedy section of the decision, Pannu writes:
“I find the Respondent (Gambler First Nation) discriminated against the Complainant (Gordon Ledoux) by denying him the occupancy of his house contrary to section of the CHRA (Canadian Human Rights Act). For that action I award the Complainant $ 5,000 for pain and suffering.”
He also found that David’s actions erected barriers to Gordon’s return, called that reckless, and awarded a further $ 2,500.
Gordon, who is in a wheelchair, continues to suffer from a few ailments, including severe neuropathy in his feet.
“I went to see the foot care nurse here on Gambler a couple of weeks ago and I was informed by the health director Mackenzie (Olynyk) that since I don’t have an address (at Gambler) I won’t be able to use the services,” he said.
It is Gordon’s understanding that he is now considered by the leadership to be an off-reserve member. It’s also his understanding that a contributing factor is his refusal to sign the new housing agreement developed by the leadership. He’s not the only one not signing. The newly developed agreement includes items some object to, such as having to inform the housing manager or a housing committee member if they leave the reserve for more than five days.
The implication for those not signing is that if a member were to leave their home without informing the manager or a committee member, the house would be taken from them.
Gambler was also ordered by the human rights tribunal to create human rights policies, which was to include an internal review process publicized for Gambler members — to be reviewed by the Canadian Human Rights Commission — as well as provide human rights training for the current Gambler chief and council, employees and any interested Gambler members.
“What him and his lawyer are doing is stalling. In the meantime, they’re making a mockery of the justice system, really, and (the Canadian) Human Rights (Tribunal) because they’re not following the instructions they were given. They’re completely disregarding everything.”
Gordon has been couch surfing among relatives on the reserve for quite some time now, but has a letter stating that effective Sept. 1 he is residing with a cousin. He has an address.
The Brandon Sun sent questions to Gambler First Nation, via its Saskatchewan marketing firm Mash Media, and received a statement.
“The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal’s decision is presently under judicial review in Federal Court proceedings. However, Gambler First Nation has been and continues to work with the Canadian Human Rights Commission regarding the decision, despite the fact that chief and council continues (sic) to dispute the decision,” according to the statement.
David’s daughter Kellie LeDoux is a band councillor, along with Louis Tanner.
The statement also said Gambler has a housing committee made up of on-reserve members.
“All decisions regarding housing, including those concerning Mr. Gordon Ledoux, are made by the committee, not chief and council,” according to the statement.
“Further, it is Gambler’s view that the committee has complied with the direction issued in paragraph 99 of the decision (priority status for housing), even though the decision remains under judicial review.”
The Sun requested the names of housing-committee members, among other further questions it posed. Gambler declined to respond. However, the Sun is in receipt of the new housing agreement, and among the housing-committee members listed is Morgan LeDoux, David’s son.
“The elected officials of Gambler First Nation had gone out of their way to ensure Mr. Gordon LeDoux’s health needs were met including personally covering costs of an electric scooter and a temporary access ramp to be used during construction of a more permanent structure,” according to the statement to the Sun.
Those actions are referenced in the human rights tribunal decision, and date back to before Gordon’s house was allocated to someone else.
The statement said Gordon has received on-reserve medical care above and beyond any obligation of Gambler First Nation and still has access to excellent care in the public health-care system.
Finally, the statement, by way of the marketing firm, concludes, “We appreciate the unique situation and medical needs of Mr. Gordon LeDoux and would seek his co-operation to ensure a fair and long-term housing solution for himself and fulfillment of his obligations under the Gambler First Nation’s Housing Policy, which applies equally to all members.”
Gordon said it’s an ongoing struggle with David.
“But, of course, the money just comes out of the reserve, not his pocket, so he doesn’t care, really,” Gordon said about professional fees for lawyers and others.
“There has to be some kind of deterrence for cases like this.”
» Michele LeTourneau covers Indigenous matters for The Brandon Sun under the Local Journalism Initiative, a federally funded program that supports the creation of original civic journalism.