A call for Aboriginal Affairs to intervene in First Nation governance
To the Expositor:
It’s August 31 and while many peoples’ thoughts are on preparing for fall and winter, the people of Sheguiandah First Nation (SFN) are wondering about the loss of funding for non-essential services.
According to Aboriginal Affairs, funding for non-essential services will be cut on September 1 for First Nations that do not post their audits and statements of remuneration for chief, council and unelected officials. SFN is one of the non-complying First Nations, as of this writing, under the First Nations Transparency Act that have not posted their financial audit that was due on July 29. Are the expenditures so embarrassing, the council is unwilling to disclose the figures? What about the half million dollars from the wind turbine project? Where have those funds gone? The community has many questions but zero answers. Whatever happened to this utopian community this council was going to build and how much better and improved it was going to be?
Instead, we now have a dysfunctional council which has breached its fiduciary duty to its members.
Can anyone even remember the last time there was a council meeting where the membership was able to put questions to this council? We now have a dictator running our affairs on SFN. Councillor Georgina Thompson has seized control of our community and its funds. At first, Ms. Thompson tried to say she was “Deputy Chief” and when that didn’t work, she changed it to “Acting Chief.” Both self proclaimed titles lack any validity and are not recognized under the Indian Act. So from where does Georgina derive her powers and assumption that somehow she is in charge? She will tell people it was decided at a chief and council retreat that was held after the last election. However, according to a Federal Court decision (Balfour v. Norway House Cree Nation, 2006 FC216) “Resolutions must be debated and passed in accordance with the rules and guidelines of the band and also in accordance with the principles of democracy. The practise, whether customary or not, of adopting a resolution in secret meetings and ratifying the resolution at a subsequent duly convened meeting, without discussion and debate, is not valid.” I haven’t seen any band council resolutions derived from a duly convened meeting that have delegated authority or powers to Georgina Thompson. Plain and simple, it’s a dictatorship.
The big question here is when will Aboriginal Affairs step up and remove this illegitimate and illegal government? Should Aboriginal Affairs refuse to act, maybe it’s time for the community to mobilize, shut down the band office and take back our community.
Sheguiandah First Nation
EDITOR’S NOTE: According to the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs website, all Manitoulin Island First Nations with the exception of Sheguiandah, Wikwemikong and Zhiibaahasing have filed their audited financial statements as of press time Monday, August 31, however First Nations did have until midnight that night. Wikwemikong Chief Duke Peltier told his community at a public meeting recently that the audited statements were in fact done, but needed to be ratified by council before being sent to the government.