According to Registrar Fred Pretorius, the rejection of new members by Many Rivers on the grounds they didn’t complete the proper paperwork is baseless. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)

Registrar orders Many Rivers to accept members

The society wasn’t in the right when refusing entry of nine people

That Many Rivers Counselling and Support Services chose to reject new members on the grounds they did not complete the proper paperwork is baseless, according to a decision by the Yukon’s Registrar of Societies.

On March 22, Registrar Fred Pretorius ordered Many Rivers to make nine people who complained new members.

“There is no basis at all in the act or in the society’s bylaws for insisting that person complete any application of any sort … nor is there any evidence that the society’s director ever prescribed any membership application forms, rules, or processes of any kind,” Pretorius says in the decision.

Their membership would apply retroactively, effective when they first paid fees to join (June 25, 2018).

Ahead of the months-long strike that started last fall, Pretorius launched an investigation after receiving several complaints aimed at the society.

There are two steps in becoming a member of Many Rivers, neither of which deal with applications, Pretorius says. You’re a member if you, one, pay an annual fee and, two, “subscribe to the purpose of the society.”

“There is nothing more required,” Pretorius says.

There are nine complainants included in the decision. The most significant concerns deal with refused or rejected membership.

Many Rivers, the decision says, rejected applications on the basis they were incomplete.

There’s more to it.

A Many Rivers’ letter sent to several complainants dated Nov. 22 suggests that re-applying would be futile. It backs this up by accusing them of being part of a “conspiracy” at the behest of the Yukon Employees’ Union to “disrupt the legitimate business activities of Many Rivers for the primary purpose of advancing the narrow self-interests of the YEU and its members in the context of ongoing negotiations of a collective agreement.”

Pretorius disagrees.

“Nothing in the Societies Act, or in the Many Rivers bylaws, make it ‘improper’ for a group of like-minded individuals to pay a membership fee to Many Rivers with the common intention of becoming members so as to rid Many Rivers of its current management and entirely reshape its operational or business model,” he says, adding that there is no evidence showing that the complainants don’t support the society’s purpose.

No legitimate meeting between members has been held since June 2018, Pretorius says, because notice wasn’t provided to all members.

This, he continues, was intentional, in that Many Rivers didn’t treat some people as such.

“It is not disputed that the Many Rivers bylaws require that all members be given notice of any meeting of the members. …” Pretorius says. “It also not disputed that those complainants who had submitted membership applications were not given notice of any meetings, because the board did not accept their membership applications.”

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

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