Liard First Nation members decry upcoming legal battle

Some Liard First Nation members are speaking out against their chief's decision to launch a legal fight against Ottawa's handling of their First Nation's financial mess.

Some Liard First Nation members are speaking out against their chief’s decision to launch a legal fight against Ottawa’s handling of their First Nation’s financial mess.

“It’s always the same old thing,” said Alfred Chief, spokesperson for the Kaska Concerned about Land Protection and Good Government.

“It’s unfortunate for the people and the community that he (Chief Daniel Morris) has put us through so much turmoil again.”

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

On Tuesday, the First Nation sent out a 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 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.

But Chief said the third-party manager has been doing its job.

“As a band member I’m glad they’re here,” he said.

“Our services are being delivered. Water, garbage, it’s all being done.

“If the First Nation got rid of the third-party manager, Morris would hire his supporters and that’s it.”

Another Liard First Nation member, Rose Caesar, questions where the funds would come from to cover expensive legal fees.

“Where is the money coming from for their high-priced lawyers in Vancouver when our people are homeless and going to the food bank in record numbers?” she said in a news release yesterday.

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.

This isn’t the first time Liard First Nation members have spoken out against their chief and council.

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

And in February this year, 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.

Earlier this week, Morris said the First Nation was working on ways to improve communication with its members. That includes holding more meetings, sending out a newsletter and updating its website, Morris said.

But according to Chief, the only meetings being held are ones about land use planning, not ones that address community concerns.

“When people like myself attend those meetings, we get hollered down by his (Morris’s) supporters,” he said.

“That’s one reason why I don’t go. At my age I don’t need that.”

Chief said he’s still hoping for an early election to be called so that a new government can cooperate with the third-party manager.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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