Ed John, a leader of the First Nations Summit and former British Columbia cabinet minister, is accused of four counts of sexual assault dating back to 1974.
The B.C. Prosecution Service says in a statement that special prosecutor Michael Klein was appointed in February to look into allegations of sexual offences that were alleged to have occurred in and around Prince George.
The service says Klein has approved four counts of having sexual intercourse with a woman without her consent.
The incidents were alleged to have occurred between March 1 and Sept. 15, 1974.
Prosecution service spokesman Dan McLaughlin says the charges are alleged to involve one person.
John, who’s first court appearance is set for Dec. 10, could not immediately be reached for comment.
He is a hereditary chief of Tl’azt’en Nation in northern B.C. and a lawyer who holds honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from the University of Northern British Columbia and the University of Victoria.
John completed his 11th consecutive term as an elected leader of the First Nations Summit Political Executive in June and served for five years as a member of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
The First Nations Summit issued a statement Thursday, saying John’s role with the organization ceased in June 2019 when he did not seek re-election.
“He was on contract to the FNS as an advisor and that contract has been immediately suspended pending the outcome of this legal matter,” said the organization.
“The FNS will co-operate fully with the RCMP, B.C. Prosecution Service or other investigating bodies.”
His biography also says he was involved in the development of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2007 and implemented by the British Columbia government just last month.
In 2015, then-premier Christy Clark appointed John as special adviser on Indigenous children in care, and after extensive consultations, he submitted a report one year later containing 85 recommendations to overhaul British Columbia’s Indigenous child welfare system.
The recommendations were aimed at improving outcomes for Indigenous children and youth by changing the focus from intervention and separation to strengthening families.