Prominent First Nations leader hit with historical sex charges

Chief hit with sex charges

A prominent First Nations leader and former provincial cabinet minister from Northern B.C. has been charged with four sex crimes alleged to have occurred back in 1974.

The B.C. Prosecution Service announced Thursday it has appointed a special prosecutor to manage allegations levelled at Edward John, Hereditary Chief of the Tl’azt’en Nation northwest of Prince George.

John is charged with four counts of having sexual intercourse with a female person without her consent for incidents alleged to have occurred between March 1, 1974 and Sept. 15, 1974.

A special prosecutor is being used to “avoid any potential for real or perceived improper influence in the administration of justice,” considering John’s prominent stature. Michael Klein QC, a private practice lawyer from Vancouver, will manage the prosecution.

John, 70, served as both councillor and chief of the Tl'azt'en Nation between 1974 and 1992, and was also chief of the Carrier-Sekani Tribal Council from 1984 to 1988. He was appointed to the provincial cabinet as the NDP’s Minister of Children and Families in November 2000, serving until the change of government in June 2001.

He is a lawyer, holds an honorary degree from UNBC and is involved prominently at the national level in the Assembly of First Nations and First Nations Summit.

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