Liard First Nation headed to court over third party management

The Liard First Nation's embattled relationship with its third-party manager will continue in court. It's been almost two years since Ottawa appointed a manager to straighten out the First Nation's financial mess.

The Liard First Nation’s embattled relationship with its third-party manager will continue in court.

It’s been almost two years since Ottawa appointed a manager to straighten out the First Nation’s financial mess.

Yesterday morning, the First Nation sent out a news release announcing it was seeking a federal judicial review of the decision to re-appoint the same manager to oversee the First Nation’s affairs.

Chief Daniel Morris claims the manager, Ganhada Management Group, has breached its legal obligations to both the First Nation and the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.

“The third-party manager is supposed to work with the First Nation and AANDC on a management action plan,” Morris said yesterday.

“They didn’t fulfill those duties with us. They’ve never met with chief and council.

“There hasn’t been any contact and no information sharing.”

The Liard First Nation claims Ganhada hasn’t spent funds that had been earmarked for housing renovations, and that its accounting practices had been questioned by an auditor.

It took more than seven months for the third-party manager to be allowed inside the First Nation’s band office, according to Liard First Nation citizens.

The Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada describes the measure as a last resort, to be taken as a temporary measure to ensure the continued delivery of programs and services to the community.

Morris said legal action was not the preferred path for the First Nation. It would much rather speak with Carolyn Bennett, minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, to “see how we can work through this.”

“It’s easier to go down that road than to spend money going to court,” he said.

When the parties met in Whitehorse in January, Morris said, he explained the First Nation’s situation to her.

His understanding was that Bennett was sympathetic to the First Nation and that she said third-party management wasn’t beneficial to First Nations.

Morris also suggested the third-party manager be replaced with Deloitte Canada, a firm with which it already has a positive relationship.

But the same manager was re-appointed to oversee the First Nation’s affairs on April 1, the news release stated.

“We’re trying to get her to live up to her words,” Morris said.

“I think it’s the bureaucrats’s fault, they’re the same ones as the previous government.”

As of late 2014 the First Nation still owed Aboriginal Affairs over $400,000. It has yet to provide its financial statements for 2014-15.

The First Nation claims it’s been left in the dark about its financial affairs. But Liard First Nations citizens have been saying the same thing about their chief and council for years.

In Jan. 2014, in one of the administration’s first moves, about 40 people were laid off without prior warning. The band office was closed without explanation and everyone was sent home.

In early 2015 some Liard First Nation elders claimed they weren’t receiving their usual quotas of wood and oil during the winter. They blamed Morris for ignoring the needs of elders and refusing to communicate with them.

In February this year, a group of Liard First Nation citizens – the Kaska Concerned about Land Protection and Good Government – spoke out against their council’s lack of consultation prior to signing a resource agreement with the Yukon government.

The agreement in question, signed between the Yukon government and the Kaska Nation, sets out a plan for negotiating resource management and economic development on Kaska territory.

Morris said the First Nation has been working to improve communication with its citizens. That includes holding more meetings, sending out a newsletter and updating its website.

“You have to understand that when we were elected, the First Nation government wasn’t in a good situation,” Morris said.

There has also been talk the First Nation’s business arm, the Liard First Nation Development Corporation, had been dissolved. But Morris said that’s not the case.

It’s just “idling” for the time being, he said.

The corporation was responsible for collecting rental payments from Liard First Nation citizens, but Morris wouldn’t answer where the money is going now.

“There’s no work and no money within the development corporation,” he said.

“It owes more money to creditors than anything.”

Morris said he hopes Tuesday’s news release will “wake some people up” in Ottawa.

“Maybe they’ll be serious about moving forward,” he added.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

Just Posted

Sarah Walz leads a softball training session in Dawson City. Photo submitted by Sport Yukon.
Girls and women are underserved in sport: Sport Yukon

Sport Yukon held a virtual event to celebrate and discuss girls and women in sport

Main Street in Whitehorse on May 4. Whitehorse city council has passed a bylaw to allow pop-up patios in city parking spaces. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Bagged meter fees could be discounted for patios

Council passes first reading at special meeting

The Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s business park planned in Marwell is among a number of sites that are expected to make more commercial/industrial land available in the coming years. (Submitted)
Council hears update on commercial land

Number of developments expected to make land available in near future

keith halliday
Yukonomist: Have I got an opportunity for you!

Are you tired of the same-old, same-old at work? Would you like to be a captain of industry, surveying your domain from your helicopter and enjoying steak dinners with influential government officials at the high-profile Roundup mining conference?

Clouds pass by the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa, Friday, June 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Yukon government, B.C. company want Supreme Court of Canada appeal of Wolverine Mine case

Government concerned with recouping cleanup costs, creditor wants review of receiver’s actions.

The Village of Carmacks has received federal funding for an updated asset management plan. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Federal funding coming to Carmacks

The program is aimed at helping municipalities improve planning and decision-making around infrastructure

Paddlers start their 715 kilometre paddling journey from Rotary Park in Whitehorse on June 26, 2019. The 2021 Yukon River Quest will have a different look. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
The 22nd annual Yukon River Quest moves closer to start date

Although the race will be modified in 2021, a field of 48 teams are prepared to take the 715 kilometre journey from Whitehorse to Dawson City on the Yukon River

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at issues discussed by Whitehorse city council at its June 7 meeting

Letters to the editor.
This week’s mailbox: the impact of residential schools, Whitehorse Connects, wildfires

Dear Editor; Anguish – extreme pain, distress or anxiety. Justice – the… Continue reading

PROOF CEO Ben Sanders is seen with the PROOF team in Whitehorse. (Submitted)
Proof and Yukon Soaps listed as semifinalists for national award

The two companies were shortlisted from more than 400 nominated

The RCMP Critical Incident Program will be training in Watson Lake from June 14-16. Mike Thomas/Yukon News
RCMP will conduct three days of training in Watson Lake

Lakeview Apartment in Watson Lake will be used for RCMP training

John Tonin/Yukon News Squash players duke it out during Yukon Open tournament action at Better Bodies on June 5.
Four division titles earned at squash Yukon Open

The territory’s squash talent was on full display at the 2021 Yukon Open

Most Read