Posted on February 8, 2016 by Marty Gold 

Mere days before Nahanni Fontaine announced she was the latest star candidate seeking to replace star retiring NDP legislature members, aboriginal social service professionals from the Native Women’s Transition Centre reached out for her help to resolve their toxic workplace. 

A group of staff members presented long-ignored complaints to the Board of Directors on December 14, but has seen no actions about allegations of being “abused, bullied, threatened and harassed” by executive director Katherine Morrisseau Sinclair, aside from her departure on a leave of absence a week later.

One of that group of employees wrote Fontaine, a noted human rights activist, at her official email account as the Government of Manitoba’s special advisor on aboriginal women’s affairs.

NWTC employee asks Nahanni Fontaine to help with serious complaints about Exec. Dir. Katherine Morrisseau Sinclair

Three days later, Fontaine proclaimed her run for the NDP nomination to replace retiring Attorney-General Gord Mackintosh in St. Johns riding.  Her leap from institutional insider and public agenda- influencer mirrors that of Wab Kinew, who the week before stepped forward to replace Jennifer Howard in Ft. Rouge.  

The request for her to intervene on behalf of of NWTC clients and staff may put Fontaine in an ethical bind.

On the one hand, her role as defender of abused and neglected aboriginal women puts the uninvestigated charges about client and employee mistreatment by Sinclair in her wheelhouse.

However, to investigate the issues puts her at potential loggerheads with fellow MLA-aspirant Kinew.  His sister Diane Kelly, the acting Deputy Minister for Family Services, was assigned to investigate a privacy breach linked to Sinclair involving the confidential complaints.

But after Kelly took the assignment Kinew’s wife joined the NWTC board last fall.

This gave rise to a question from a whistleblower about Kelly’s apparent conflict of interest in her handling of the file, as well as other concerns about visibly close ties between the Kinew and Sinclair families and in particular, between Kelly’s brother Wab and the husband of ‘KMS’, Associate Chief Justice Murray Sinclair.  

Questions about potential conflicts of interest involving NWTC directors and Judge Sinclair have also come to light, and gone unanswered. 


What Judge Sinclair didn’t say in his speech at City Hall was how his own wife was less than thrilled to see Brian Bowman elected Mayor of Winnipeg.