An attempt by former executive director of the Niagara Regional Native Centre Karl Dockstader to have a discussion about the future of the organization Monday night was put on hold.
On his Facebook page last week, Dockstader had posted an invitation to the community interested in helping the native centre on
Airport Road to, “come and have a dialogue about what we would like to see come from the Feb. 8 emergency members meeting.”
He promised that he would share a public statement with the community during this week’s regular Monday drumming night.
Dockstader, who had planned to resign earlier this month from his post at the centre, was walked off the property by board president Lacey Lewis and treasurer Wanda Griffin on Dec. 16. Shortly after that, three other board members resigned from their posts, leaving the board with only four current members. According to the centre’s bylaws, the board needs nine members but is allowed to operate so long as a majority of five members are present.
The board has since scheduled a special membership meeting in less than two weeks to update the organization’s bylaws and to fill current board vacancies.
“We are seeking dedicated volunteers that wish to create a lasting impact for community today and tomorrow,” says a statement on the Centre’s Facebook page, inviting applications for the vacancies.
When Dockstader arrived at the centre Monday evening after his shift at CKTB Radio, he was met by Lewis and other officials in the parking lot. Lewis expressed her feeling that drum night was not the proper time to have a potentially incendiary discussion, especially with many youth members there for the drumming.
Attendance at Monday’s drum night was definitely larger than usual, likely because some were anticipating the discussion to happen. Lewis offered to come up with an alternative date and time for Dockstader to present his statement and concerns, one where there would be no children present.
“I think the majority of the room was there because they were looking for more information,” Dockstader told The Local Tuesday morning.
At one point in the evening, after the drumming stopped, Dockstader began to present his statement.
“I attempted to address the community,” said Dockstader. “But I wasn’t allowed to finish. I was interrupted by Lacey. Once she interrupted me, people interrupted her, and everything broke down. There was really no opportunity to talk.”
Though Lewis had offered to come up with an alternative date and time to hear Dockstader’s concerns, no progress was made on that front.
“I am hoping, I’m more than willing to have a conversation with the board between now and Feb. 8,” Dockstader said. “I need to be able to assure people who have approached me that the members’ meeting is going to be conducted in a fair way, in accordance with our bylaws.”
Dockstader recognizes that he has no legal standing since leaving his post as executive director. He plans to attend the Feb. 8 meeting as a member of the native centre.
He added that he will not share his statement to the general public until he has a chance to present it to what remains of the current board.
“As a measure of good faith, I have to see if there’s any path to an open line of communication.”
At press time, attempts to reach Lewis for follow-up comment were unsuccessful.