Kevin Kelly, and his wife and hereditary chief Marilyn Gabriel. (Langley Advance Times files)

Kevin Kelly, and his wife and hereditary chief Marilyn Gabriel. (Langley Advance Times files)

Leaked memo shows head of Kwantlen business group ‘unavailable’

Earlier this month a letter about “allegations” in the businesses was sent to band members

A letter sent to employees of the Kwantlen First Nation’s business arm indicates that CEO Brenda Knights is “temporarily unavailable,” just weeks after allegations about the business group were brought to the chief and council.

The letter, dated May 14, 2021 and signed by Chief Marilyn Gabriel says “all business needs, inquiries, and communications that would normally be addressed to her [Knights] should be, until further notice,” to the Seyem’ Qwantlen Business Management (SQBM) director of finance.”

It also indicates that an “interim consultant” has been hired to assist SQBM.

The Kwantlen First Nation, which has its largest reserve on McMillan Island north of Fort Langley, has been building up its business group for more than a decade, creating multiple enterprises ranging from digital design to construction to security.

The Langley Advance Times received the letter from a source wishing to remain anonymous.

The letter follows a May 6 message sent to all members of the Kwantlen First Nation.

“Chief and council has received a number of allegations from membership concerning the Seyem’ Qwantlen legal entities that were established to benefit membership,” said the initial Kwantlen message.

It remains unclear which of the several businesses under the Seyem’ banner might be the subject of the allegations, or what is alleged.

READ ALSO: Kwantlen First Nation warned of allegations about business group

Another document sent to members of the KFN regards the ongoing review of the band’s governance structure.

Kwantlen First Nation is one of a handful of First Nations in B.C. that operates under a hereditary chief system, rather than some form of elected leadership.

In the spring of 2019, some KFN members raised concerns and circulated a petition calling for changes to the governance structure. In May 2019, a mediator was appointed and a public forum held, and since then a review has been underway.

The document sent to band members said that info collected from the most recent surveys is being synthesized to confirm a new governance model and governance code for the Kwantlen.

“We remain optimistic and are targeting to have a governance code ready for vote by membership this summer,” the document said.

The Langley Advance Times has reached out to the KFN council and Knights for comment.

READ MORE: Mediator appointed after petition calls for Kwantlen governance change


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