Assault charges dismissed against previous Sheguiandah FN chief

Orville Aguonie considers civil suit

SHEGUIANDAH FIRST NATION—The presiding judge in a Gore Bay court of law dismissed charges against the former chief of the Sheguiandah First Nation last week.

Orville Aguonie, former chief of the community who had been embroiled in a bitter dispute that saw two of its three councillors protest along the Highway 6 roadside for many months in 2012 and 2013, contacted The Expositor last week to share the outcome of his trial last week. The trial, which spanned the course of two days, was the result of a 2012 incident which saw Mr. Aguonie charged with two counts of assault against current Sheguiandah First Nation Chief Richard Shawanda and his son Nathan Shawanda. The charges stemmed from accusations leveled against supporters of the protest including Chief Shawanda and his son. These followed damage done to a Sheguiandah residence, vandalism to band-owned vehicles and a fire at Alleycatz Convenience Store, owned by Mr. Aguonie and his wife Allison.

Mr. Aguonie said he felt that much of the basis for the protest was as a result of the charges against him.

“My accusers now sit on council so I am asking for the resignation of Richard Shawanda, Jackie Bowerman and Georgina Thompson (the latter two are councillors and were known supporters of the protest),” he said. “It’s all false, what they said about me.”

Mr. Aguonie said he was now in the process of seeking legal advice on pursuing civil litigation for making false claims.

“It (the comments) did affect my re-election—I feel it was a big part of that,” he added. “This was almost a two-year ordeal and at considerable legal expense, but I’m very happy with the outcome.”

Mr. Aguonie’s lawyer, John Saftic, explained that the Crown attorney called five witnesses and one police officer to the stand over the two-day trial in May and June with only Mr. Aguonie being called to the stand for defense testimony.

“Within 10 to 15 minutes, the judge indicated that she was dismissing the charges,” Mr. Saftic explained, due to a “lack of credibility” from the Crown witnesses.