OHSWEKEN — Six Nations Elected Chief Mark Hill sent out a scathing rebuke to Turtle Island News publisher Lynda Powless over the weekend, demanding an immediate apology for falsely reporting he posted nude photos to social media.
The original article appeared in the June 30, 2021 print edition of the Turtle Island News, alleging the chief posted nude images of himself to social media, speculating about the chief’s state of mental health and his moral authority to remain in leadership. The story further went on to allege the chief may have violated the council’s code of ethics and outlined the process that the Chief may be removed from office if he did violate the code of ethics. It did not include details or references to what social media outlets the images were posted to or when.
Now, the Elected Chief is standing up to newspaper publisher Lynda Powless, who authored the June 30th story, saying in a statement that the article is an unfounded and irresponsible attack on his personal life by the Turtle Island News — and is calling on Powless to formally apologize and make a donation in his name to an indigenous organization that specializes in mental health.
A statement issued by the Chief, sent via email to Two Row Times says, “On Wednesday, The Turtle Island News ran a story alluding to private photographs of Chief Hill, which he had shared electronically in the context of an online dating application, and with an expectation of privacy. The photographs were not “posted to social media” as the article claims, but shared privately with an individual through a dating app. Any subsequent dissemination or sharing of the images was done so without his consent.”
Sharing intimate images of someone without their consent is a criminal offence, also known as nonconsensual pornography or revenge porn.
“Author and Turtle Island News Publisher Lynda Powless made unfounded, disparaging editorial suggestions that Chief Hill’s private dating life should be seen in conflict with his professional integrity, although there have been no formal complaints regarding the photos to the Six Nations Integrity Commission. Ms. Powless published the story after receiving a letter from Chief Hill’s lawyer advising her of the disparaging and irresponsible nature of her unfounded claims, as well as the fact that the Six Nations Election officer Steve Williams, who would review any code of conduct complaints, is currently involved in an unrelated lawsuit with Chief Hill. This conflict was not disclosed in the Turtle Island News,” says the statement.
“I have committed my professional life to fighting for our people, always motivated by the community’s best interest,” said Chief Hill. “My personal life, conducted privately and on my own time, has no bearing on my work, and should not be used as a revelation or a weapon to divide our people.”
“At this moment, we are working to protect our people through a global pandemic, to comprehend the scope of the atrocities committed against us at so-called “Residential Schools” and to win long overdue respect and support from the Canadian government,” said Chief Hill. “Attacks on my personal life must not be used as a distraction from this vital work. We cannot allow ourselves to be divided, and we will not allow each other to be disparaged.”
The statement further goes on to reject allegations by Powless that Chief Hill’s private life is in any way scandalous, and provides resources for others in the community who may be triggered by the story or who have experienced similar online harassment or bullying as a result of their personal identity or who have had personal information shared without their consent.
Turtle Island News did not publish the story to their website or on their social media channels this week. However photographs of the story as it appeared in the print edition of the paper were circulated on social media throughout the weekend.
See the full statement from Chief Hill here:
Chief Hill Response to Article-June30-2021