Native centre's former manager says he was silenced by board boss

Turbulence and unrest continues to plague the Niagara Regional Native Centre in Niagara-on-the-Lake after multiple resignations turned its board of directors into a skeleton crew.

Karl Dockstader, who resigned as executive director last month, attended a drum circle Monday night in what he called an attempt to open a dialogue with concerned community members about what they want from the native centre for 2023

He posted an invitation to Facebook last weekend saying he would be attending.

When he arrived, board president Lacey Lewis pulled him aside and asked that he not speak.

“Being greeted at the door by the senior leadership definitely sent the message that I'm not welcome,” Dockstader told The Lake Report.

He said Lewis told him that with children present, she didn’t think debating board politics was appropriate.

Lewis did not respond to interview requests before deadline.

The two could not see eye to eye so he decided to speak anyway after the drumming wrapped up, Dockstader said.

“I even announced that people that were not interested in hearing what I had to say could leave,” he said. “Almost no one left. The room was full.”

He said Lewis told him to stop. Then, “things escalated and the dialogue broke down at that point.”

The board is holding a special meeting Feb. 8 to assign new members and amend the centre’s bylaws.

Dockstader has voiced concerns about the board, saying it has too few members to govern and therefore cannot change the centre's bylaws.

Three board members resigned in December, leaving only four active directors. The full board includes nine members. Two other board positions were already vacant.

“There are unspoken conversations that really need to happen at that native centre,” he said.

He said he has no confidence that they will "get to where (they) need to be" by the special meeting.

He wouldn't elaborate, saying he feels the community members should hear it from him first.

“I have information that belongs to the membership, that I want to express directly to the membership and to our community.”

Evan Loree, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Lake Report