A Watson Lake woman has been ordered to pay $80,000 for defaming Liard First Nation Chief Liard McMillan and LFN economic development officer Alex Morrison.
“I’m just happy that it’s over. It’s been a real difficult time for me, and it was the right verdict. I’m glad to finally have this matter settled,” McMillan said.
Last summer, during a political protest against the chief and council, Vianna Abou accused the men of corruption, nepotism, and theft. Many of these allegations were linked to the First Nation’s buying and selling of Watson Lake hotels.
Abou was acting as a spokesperson for the protesters, who had gathered what she said were 120 names on a petition calling for McMillan’s ouster.
But that petition bore the names of people that McMillan knew to be dead, the chief said.
“I’ve been to almost every one of their funerals. I helped to bury some of these people,” McMillan said.
When he saw those names on the petition, McMillan said his jaw dropped.
“I was shocked. I couldn’t understand how somebody could go to such lengths to damage my character, and to actually use individuals that are deceased. To me, it goes against our Kaska way, our Kaska laws. It’s really shameful,” he said.
He said his government doesn’t try to stifle free speech or restrict the right to protest, but Abou’s actions went too far.
“I love and care about my community. I’ve made some honest mistakes in the past, but they are honest mistakes. I think anybody’s entitled to that. I expect criticism and attack, but what I will not tolerate is lies. That’s where I draw the line in the sand,” he said.
Yukon Supreme Court ruled that Abou must pay $50,000 to McMillan and $30,000 to Morrison.
As part of the settlement, Abou was required to make a formal apology to both men.
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