Liard First Nation still mum on its financial disarray

A meeting in Watson Lake this week between Aboriginal Affairs, Health Canada and the Liard First Nation's third party manager failed to accomplish much, according to a concerned resident.

A meeting in Watson Lake this week between Aboriginal Affairs, Health Canada and the Liard First Nation’s third party manager failed to accomplish much, according to a concerned resident.

Albert Chief said he went to the meeting expecting to get some answers on the state of the First Nation’s financial affairs.

“People are concerned about where our rent money is going, why there haven’t been any repairs to our houses,” he said.

“We also wanted to know how much the chief is making and whether he gave himself a raise. We want to know what the hell is going on there.”

Chief said he attended because he’s concerned about the future of his four grandchildren.

In January, he spoke out about the hardship in the community, saying elders weren’t receiving their usual quota of wood and oil during the winter.

He said Chief Daniel Morris had created a “welfare state.”

About 80 people showed up to the meeting at the Watson Lake recreation centre on Wednesday, Chief said.

A spokesperson for Aboriginal Affairs said it was meant to provide Liard First Nation community members with an update on its third party management arrangement.

But little is known about what was actually discussed on Wednesday.

A CBC reporter said that she had been denied entry into the meeting despite being invited by the First Nation.

Ottawa appointed a third party manager, Ganhada Management Group, to straighten out the First Nation’s finances back in late August.

At the time, Morris blamed the department for failing to work with the First Nation and for avoiding the needs of the community.

“A government that acts like this, it’s not reasonable. It’s not helping the cause.”

He also said approximately $708,000 was owed to Aboriginal Affairs.

As of April 8, the First Nation still hadn’t submitted its financial statements to the federal department’s website, a requirement under the First Nation Financial Transparency Act.

Those statements include the salaries and expenses of its chief and councillors.

It’s the only Yukon First Nation, and one of only 16 across the country, to withhold that information.

Chief said that’s because the advisor appointed to work with the First Nation hasn’t been allowed into the band office to examine the finances.

In a brief interview with the News yesterday, Morris had little to say, other than that progress had been made at Wednesday’s meeting. He wouldn’t elaborate, nor would he say whether the advisor had been allowed into the band office.

In an email this morning, a spokesperson for Aboriginal Affairs said the meeting was an opportunity for community members to voice their concerns and ask questions. “It was a public meeting to discuss a variety of issues pertinent to the community and its partners,” wrote Erin Macpherson.

“Essential services continue to be delivered in the community by the Third-Party Funding Agreement Manager, Ganhada Management Group. Liard First Nation still remains non-compliant with the disclosure provisions in the First Nation Financial Transparency Act.”

Chief said he’ll continue to voice his concerns despite not getting any answers.

“I’ve been around for many years. It won’t change.”

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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