CBC News / Posted Aug 03, 2015
Yukon First Nation ‘failed to, or refused to’ publish salaries of chief and council
The federal government has filed a court order against Yukon’s Liard First Nation.
The order seeks to enforce the First Nations Financial Transparency Act.
On May 7, RCMP in Watson Lake delivered court papers to Liard First Nation councillor Cindy Porter.
The department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada wants the Federal Court to force the Liard First Nation to publish financial information. This includes the salaries of Chief and Council.
A notice of application says the Liard First Nation has “failed to, or refused to, publish all of the documents” required by the act.
Similar cases across Canada
The Liard First Nation isn’t the only First Nation to be served similar papers.
According to AANDC, the First Nations Financial Transparency Act affects 582 First Nations in Canada.
Eleven First Nations have not published the required financial information.
The Liard First Nation is the only First Nation in Yukon, NWT and Nunavut not to comply with the act.
LFN ‘leaving members in the dark’ says Valcourt
Court papers filed in Yukon cite “repeated demands” from AANDC that the Liard First Nation publish salaries.
The seeking of a court order comes a full year after passage of the act.
Last March, the office of Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt sent what it called a “formal letter” to the LFN demanding it meet the act’s requirements.
At that time, Valcourt wrote that LFN leadership “have not fulfilled the requirements of the act, nor provided the government with an action plan, thus leaving their members in the dark about how band revenues are spent.”
According to AANDC’s Emily Hillstrom, the government then filed a notice of application with the Federal Court.
Failure to comply with any court order can lead to charges of contempt of court.
According to the act, funds may be also withheld from First Nations which do not publish required information.
In the case of the Liard First Nation, however, it’s unclear what funds the federal government could withhold.
The First Nation has been under third-party management since August of 2014. As part of the arrangement, “non-essential services” have already been cut.
The Liard First Nations’ federally-allocated finances are being distributed by a B.C. company as part of a plan to repay more than $700,000 in debts.
According to AANDC, five First Nations of the eleven being pursued are under third-party management.
“Liard First Nation’s Third-Party Management status will not affect the litigation related the First Nations Financial Transparency Act,” Hillstrom wrote in an email response to CBC.
Kaska members seek information
In the community of Watson Lake, members of the LFN have also been calling for Chief and Council to publish information on spending and salaries.
Liard First Nation member Alfred Chief is part of a political splinter group called Kaska Concerned About Land Protection and Good Government.
“There have been no council meetings. They don’t even have an office,” Chief says of the current Liard First Nation leaders.
Meanwhile, members of the community say two of four LFN councilors have stepped down in recent weeks. CBC has been unable to reach those councillors to confirm.
“We have no idea what’s going on,” Chief says.
AANDC and Minister Bernard Valcourt’s office have declined requests for on-camera interviews.
Liard First Nation Chief Daniel Morris and councillors have not returned calls from the CBC.