Carcross/Tagish FN fears funding uncertainty

The Carcross/Tagish First Nation is worried about its financial future. The self-governing First Nation's money transfer from Ottawa runs out March 31 and there is no deal in place beyond that.

The Carcross/Tagish First Nation is worried about its financial future.

The self-governing First Nation’s money transfer from Ottawa runs out March 31 and there is no deal in place beyond that.

This has never happened before with any First Nation so there is no precedence to follow in dealing with it, the First Nation said .

The federal funding arrangement is similar, but smaller in scale, to those negotiated with the provinces and territories. It’s the main source of revenue for the First Nation to provide basic services to more than 500 citizens, said the Feb. 21 news release.

Talks stalled out last summer. Now Carcross/Tagish officials hope to at least get an extension from Ottawa until a deal can be negotiated.

In a January interview, Deputy Kha Shade Heni Danny Cresswell said the First Nation was never given the chance to actually negotiate last May. Cresswell and Council of Yukon First Nations Grand Chief Ruth Massie raised the issue with Prime Minister Stephen Harper at last month’s First Nations-Crown Gathering.

“Basically, it was a take-it-or-leave-it offer,” said Cresswell. “They came and said the mandate was already set. And they don’t have a mandate to talk about anything else.”

The obligation to negotiate each financial transfer is written into the Carcross/Tagish First Nation’s self-government agreement. It’s followed by more than 11 points that are to be considered in the negotiations.

But this isn’t about the money, it’s about the principle, Cresswell said, confirming that Ottawa had even offered a bit more money but the First Nation turned it down because it hadn’t had any input into the offer.

Now, without any agreement in place, money could run out for the First Nation.

“Of course, we have begun to look at all our options to ensure that we can continue to provide for people,” said Cresswell in the release.

“We remain optimistic that an agreement can be reached and we can continue to build our system of good governance and expand the economy in our area,” he said.

The Carcross/Tagish First Nation is scheduled to renegotiate a financial transfer agreement every five years.

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at

roxannes@yukon-news.com

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