The Canadian woman who was allegedly behind a plot to smuggle the son of Muammar el-Qaddafi, the deceased Libyan dictator, into Mexico is a consultant for a business with First Nations connections.
Cynthia Vanier, a principal at Vanier Consulting Ltd. of Mount Forest, Ontario, was arrested by Mexican authorities on November 10 for allegedly masterminding the escape of Saadi el-Qaddafi and his family to a hideaway in Punta Mita, the Canadian Press reported. She is being held in that country.
"Building Bridges from Conflict to Peace" is the company's motto as advertised on its website, and Vanier is listed as a "Chartered Mediator who has provided Mediation Services to public and private Sector since 1992." As of November 2010 the site claims that "Vanier Consulting is now registered in the Aboriginal Business Directory (ABD) under the Procurement Strategy for Aboriginal Business (PSAB)."
Vanier gave a eulogy for Whitefish River First Nation Elder Lillian Pitawanakwat after her January 2011 death, according to the Vanier Consulting website. Vanier Consulting also lists Cat Lake Friends of Animush (Ojibwe for dog) as a client, a group whose goal is to "improve community mental health in fly-in First Nations communities through improved animal welfare."
Attawapiskat First Nation is among the company's First Nations ties, QMI news agency reported. The community's finances were put under third-party stewardship last week after its chief pleaded for relief from a severe housing crisis as winter closed in.
"One version of her resume highlights consulting work conducted between the Attawapiskat First Nation, De Beers mining company and the department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. The period indicated lists 'September 2009 - present,' " QMI reported, noting that this version of Vanier's resume had since disappeared from the website and that the current resume does not mention the First Nation. "Her duties included 'Blockage issues, facilitation of relationship issues with De Beers, community issues, governance.' "
The company still features Attawapiskat in a photo gallery on the site.
Mexican authorities say they uncovered the escape plot in early September, around the same time that Vanier spoke about negotiating with aboriginal communities at a conference hosted by the Canadian Institute in Toronto and attended by First Nation leaders from around the country, as well as business leaders, QMI said.
Punta Mita has been known to be frequented by such luminaries as Kim Kardashian, Charlie Sheen and Lady Gaga, according to the National Post.
Mexico Interior Secretary Alejandro Poire said Vanier was the ringleader and in direct contact with the el-Qaddafis. Arrested on November 10, she is being held in Mexico, according to CNN. Also arrested, in the States, was Gabriela Davila Huerta or Cueto, a Mexican who was allegedly obtaining false documents for the family, along with another Mexican, Jose Luis Kennedy Prieto The purported logistical manager, a Danish man named Pierre Christian Flemsborg, was arrested on November 11, Poire told the media.
The team had opened bank accounts under fake names and acquired properties for the Gaddafi family to live in, the National Post said. Longtime dictator el-Qaddafi was killed in Surt, his hometown, after months on the run during the uprising in Libya.