Westbank First Nation (WFN) Chief Christopher Derickson has resigned over what he says is corruption within WFN.
“After consultation with my family, elders, advisors, lawyer, and doctor, I have made the decision to resign as chief of Westbank First Nation (WFN), effective end of day, Friday, June 17, 2022,” Derickson said in a media release.
Derickson notes the unauthorized and undervalued sale of 147 acres of land owned by WFN in Peachland in March 2021. The sale was reviewed by the Hon. Marion Buller, former B.C. Provincial Court Judge, and Federal Chief Commissioner and Chancellor of the University of Victoria.
“I worked to hold this government to account. In June 2021, at my request, the CAO launched an independent third-party investigation into the transaction. Council shut down this investigation.”
Justice Buller’s report found several gaps in WFN’s governance and made sixteen recommendations for change.
“Beginning to implement these recommendations has brought further evidence of corruption to light,” added Derickson. “Independent appraisals obtained by WFN estimate the unauthorized sale ($1.5M) undervalued the land by at least $2M. The report raises issues of honesty and integrity of certain former senior employees, a deception of the WFN council, and a lack of council fulfilling its duties of oversight and continuing accountability to members.”
Derickson added that he was elected as chief on a platform of good governance.
“It means that when government officials make decisions and apply laws and policies, they do so appropriately, impartially, and consistently; not influenced by personal interest, relationships, likes, and dislikes. The lack of competency, integrity, and moral courage within WFN council and the departure of our principled CAO, Simon Melanson, leave me with no other choice but to resign. It is not an easy decision but one I have been forced to make. Fighting corruption and promoting accountability, integrity, and transparency was the right thing to do. But, it has taken a toll on my family and my mental and physical health.”
Chief Derickson also thanked those who supported him and asked his privacy be respected as he takes steps to recover.