Perplexity and pain follow Little Paws closure
I’m writing in response to the issue of the closure of Little Paws Learning Centre. I’ve been living in Whitehorse for six months and have been working at Little Paws since I moved here.
The staff and kids at Little Paws quickly became my friends and family.
On December 8, staff were informed the infant program would be closing due to financial problems. On December 9, staff were told the centre would be closing at the end of the month due to financial problems. On December 10, we were told that Little Paws was being evicted and that Friday would be our last business day. It all happened so fast.
On Friday, my preschool group performed their first and only concert and I said goodbye and merry Christmas to them all. The concert was supposed to be a fundraiser to buy new toys for our classroom.
Last year, Little Paws made a $50,000 lease security payment, which was sponsored by the government. Upon evicting us, these funds were released to Borud Enterprises. Little Paws owes them $24,000 (two months’ rent). So I’m under the impression they are making $26,000 off of evicting us.
So what comes next, I think, is petty.
We hoped Borud would let us stay in the centre until the end of the month. But the answer was no. They didn’t even give us the courtesy of two weeks’ notice. They kicked us out of the centre, kids and staff, 10 days before Christmas.
I currently am unemployed. Parents are scrambling to find care for their children.
I just received news that the paycheque I received last Friday bounced. I am still owed another cheque for a week’s work and vacation pay.
Without notice, Borud Enterprises took an NSF cheque for last month’s rent and had it certified. Now there is no money to pay staff. I don’t understand why they are taking more money when they are already making a profit.
Borud Enterprises is the Grinch who stole my Christmas.
It’s only a few days until Christmas and I will be returning Christmas presents so that I can pay my rent. I heard on the radio that Glenn Hart would be helping families affected by the closure of Little Paws.
But what happens to the staff and our families? We’re asking for help.
A moving target
The protest that started outside the Liard First Nation administration building late last week is being characterized by Chief Liard McMillan as an issue of a few disgruntled individuals.
Rather, it is the tip of the iceberg of frustration that band members, on and off reserve, feel about our governance.
We write these words to you today not out of a feeling of anger and rivalry, but out of a sincere concern for our families, community and people, especially the next generation.
Most readers will likely know that our band, located around Watson Lake, has terrible rates of alcohol abuse and domestic violence. According to the Yukon Bureau of Statistics, Watson Lake ranks No. 1.
The news report on CHON-FM Radio News, on December 12, mentioned that the protesters were asking for a general assembly. This makes sense: our band has been waiting for a general assembly for four years. During this period of time we have not seen a financial statement. Isn’t there a law against this?
The news report also mentioned that the protesters were concerned about the transparency and accountability of the band’s development corporation.
Since McMillan and council are fiduciaries (agents who act in the best interests of the people) of the people’s assets (like the development corporation), is it not reasonable that our membership would want to see financial statements?
Let’s face it, many members of our band wonder how we managed to buy three hotels in a one-horse town.
Since then, we have had to tear one hotel down because it was condemned — and another had to be closed down because there is not enough business to keep it open. People are still wondering where the money came from to buy these hotels.
As fiduciaries, McMillan and council are accountable for the people’s assets. This is called management accountability.
McMillan said the First Nation was dealing with the issues and that the band would have a general assembly in the New Year “in very short order.”
Since we have been waiting for four years we can wait a little longer. We are just wondering if this is going to be another moving target general assembly.
We have members who live down South (half our members live off-reserve) in the cities who plan their vacations around our supposed annual general assembly — because they care about the people and their governance — but under this administration it’s like trying to hit a moving target.
Disclosure of information to community members, and outside stakeholders like the federal government and corporations who we may want to do business with, is critical to building an atmosphere of trust and confidence in government that allows our community members to make informed decisions about how things are going.
Disclosure of information about council business should be regularly scheduled and allow members to know in advance when and where to get the information they need about the business conducted by our government for us.
Will this chief and council immediately show they are accountable and transparent and have some respect for the intelligence and rights of Kaska people?
First Nation people must stand together against
If I can take responsibility for what I did, I don’t see why the RCMP can’t take responsibility for what they did.
They want us to take responsibility for what we do, but they can minimize, rationalize and make excuses to cover their butts, and hide under the Queen’s dress and get people from different legislatures to cover up for them or defend them, such as Premier Dennis Fentie or Justice Minister Marian Horne.
All the First Nations’ leaders in the Yukon, such as chiefs and the grand chief, need to speak up. We also lack support from First Nations altogether, that includes all individuals.
Our leaders are not backing up our fight for truth and justice for all First Nation people. Are they a bunch of wimps, or do they just not want to step on anyone’s toes in order not to spoil their reputations? First Nation people don’t seem to speak up and protect one another, then they want help when it happens to them and it’s too late.
My chief didn’t say anything or back me up. He just sent a couple of elders who don’t understand what is being said in court.
I would like to thank MLA John Edzerza for speaking up in the legislature.