Discord at Kanesatake Health Center

·3 min read

Since the election of a new board of directors for the Kanesatake Health Center (KHC), significant overhauls to the organization have some sounding the alarm about board members overstepping their responsibilities.

At the KHC’s annual general assembly on October 5, Garry Carbonnell, Wanda Gabriel, Ellen Filippelli and Gabrielle Lamouche were elected to the board, joining returning member Alexandre Beaupré.

Carbonnell and Beaupré have since resigned. KHC’s executive director Joyce Bonspiel Nelson has been suspended with pay, and a handful of staff was demoted when the centre’s organizational structure was reverted back to the way it was in 2019.

“I’m not very happy because, personally, I don’t think that they know what their role is,” said Carbonnell, who said suspending Nelson seemed to be the primary goal of other board members going into their mandate.

Carbonnell resigned after he said he realized his intentions were not aligned with those of other board members, as he said they were discussing day-to-day operations at the KHC when the board is meant to leave such matters to the executive director.

“I said no, this is not what I signed up for,” he said. “I signed up to try and see how we could better our Health Center.”

He noted that he has sat on many boards throughout his career, and he wanted to bring that expertise to benefit the KHC. However, he said he realized there was little he could do as three board members were in agreement.

“There was nothing I could do or the other board member could do because they had quorum,” he explained.

“They didn’t want to talk about the programs. What was going on, what needs to be fixed, what problems we have going on in the community that we can help, none of that. It was just straight to the executive director.”

Carbonnell said he does not know why the other board members were focused on the executive director.

Lamouche, the board’s president, said that she could not comment on the situation.

“I cannot give you any answers at this time because there’s still an external investigation going on. So I cannot comment.”

Carbonnell believed the investigation in question is a forensic audit, which can be a routine investigation for organizations.

She noted that two interim directors have been put in place following the suspension of Nelson, the executive assistant and administration manager Shirrillean Nelson, and human relations consultant Patricia Gabriel.

“Therefore, the board doesn’t feel it is overstepping,” she said. “It’s only giving directions given that the executive director has been suspended with pay.”

Sources with knowledge of the KHC’s operations who spoke on the condition of remaining anonymously expressed concern that the decision to revert back to the previous organizational structure and demote several employees would have a negative effect on the programs and services offered by the centre.

“I would rather still be there dealing with programs and going after money to get these programs going. But, I’m sitting on the sidelines,” said Carbonnell. “I resigned, but nothing is happening there. To me, it was running just fine.”

Bonspiel Nelson preferred not to comment publicly at this time.


Savannah Stewart, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door

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