Liard First Nation chief accused of ignoring elders

Liard First Nation elders aren't receiving their usual quotas of wood and oil this winter and it's causing hardship, according to one of the First Nation's citizens.

Liard First Nation elders aren’t receiving their usual quotas of wood and oil this winter and it’s causing hardship, according to one of the First Nation’s citizens.

Alfred Chief, 69, said he blames Chief Daniel Morris for ignoring the needs of elders and refusing to communicate with them, or anyone else, for that matter.

“You get $1,000 a month for pension but that’s not even enough to cover food,” he said.

“We usually get oil and wood every winter and it makes one heck of a difference. Neither is available now.

“I think Morris is evil for getting away with this.”

Chief said most of the First Nation’s elders, including him, heat their homes with wood.

He’s been coping, because he gets wood from his brother, but others aren’t so lucky.

“Some of their pipes are freezing,” he said.

“Others had to borrow money to fill up their oil tanks. It’s the sort of hardship they don’t need to go through.”

Elders would normally receive two fill-ups for their oil tanks, which would last them through the winter and into the summer, Chief said.

They’d also get five cords of wood.

But if you only burn wood throughout the winter you probably need closer to 10 cords, he said.

He said Morris has created a “welfare state.”

Last January, barely two months after being elected, Morris and his administration laid off about 40 staff and closed down the band office without warning.

The band office has since re-opened. The layoffs were supposed to be short-term but it is still unknown how many of those positions have been filled.

Services like water delivery and home-care are still being carried out.

Social assistance is also still being delivered to citizens because it’s being administered by Aboriginal Affairs.

Morris and other members of the First Nation’s leadership have been silent on the matter, and unavailable for comment.

There’s currently no housing director, and citizens are calling the ex-director for help but his hands are tied, Chief said.

Chief said he’s never spoken to or heard any news from Morris since the election.

Last August, Ottawa appointed a third-party manager to straighten out Liard First Nation’s financial mess.

At the time, Morris – the only time he’s spoken publicly since he was elected – said the First Nation owed Aboriginal Affairs $708,000.

That money would have to come from funds that would otherwise be used to provide meals and wood to elders, he said.

The First Nation has also missed two deadlines, one in July and one in November, to comply with the First Nations Financial Transparency Act and post their financial statements online.

“It would do them better to work with (the) third party and get the band back on its feet,” Chief said.

“Hopefully things will get better.”

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