The Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society is defending itself against allegations that it is unaccountable to its funders.
Last week, Liard First Nation Chief Liard McMillan said his government is cutting its support to LAWS because the society isn’t transparent with how it spends its money. He’s urged other governments that help fund the society to follow suit.
But Ann Maje Raider, executive director of LAWS, said that simply isn’t the case. “It’s unfortunate, but there is no substance to what he’s saying. We have an impeccable track record for results for what we do,” she said.
The dispute has been simmering for over a year. Last August, McMillan received a letter from LAWS’ lawyer saying that the society was not accountable to the First Nation government. The letter came after the LFN started posing questions about the group’s accountability to its funders.
In a letter to LAWS last week, McMillan said he was pulling his support and asked the society to clarify its statement.
“It came as feeling like we were blind-sided,” said Raider. “We never expected that council would do this. We’ve been asking for meetings.
“We’d like to talk. I sent (McMillan) an email this morning saying, ‘Liard, lets meet. Could you meet with the women, the community,’ and inviting them to the annual general meeting.”
According to the territory’s registrar of societies, LAWS hasn’t yet filed a financial statement for 2013, as required. The groups’ annual statements from previous years had no problems.
The non-profit is waiting for auditors to finish examining its statements, said Raider. The audit should be complete sometime this autumn, before LAWS holds its annual general meeting.
“We don’t ever want to have an AGM without our audit,” said Raider. “The auditor is very thorough. Our finance manager had to put all the requirements in, he had to send forms to all of our funders to get them to sign papers, confirm that these are the funds that they sent to us and confirm the reporting.”
The society has a 14-year history of providing critical support for residential school survivors, the victims of domestic violence and more, Raider said.
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