Rob Louie says he’s seen too many band members across the country not get their rightful share – sometimes, he says, because chiefs or councillors misuse band funds.
Louie, from the Ktunaxa (Kootenay) First Nation in BC, now calls Fort McMuray, Alta., home, has a law degree and is working on his masters.
He recently started the Band Members Alliance and Advocacy Association (BMAAAC), and works with lawyers across Canada to take bands or individuals to court.
“Unfortunately, there are elected officials that abuse the trust”, Louie tells APTN News. “At times, I’m seeing it is a single act of financial impropriety. Other times, it’s been decades of systemic wrongdoing.”
Band members who have concerns over their bands finances or lack of transparency, can contact Louie who says he receives 20 to 50 calls a week.
Although still new, Louie said the non-profit has made an impact and has helped band members from B.C. to Ontario, mostly with election issues.
“We have also helped band members obtain their per capita distribution when chief and council decided to deny them.” he said.
Louie says that until more bands are fully transparent, the courts are an option.
He says the idea isn’t just to sue chiefs. He says he wants band members to have a voice, and exercise their rights.
“And it looks like the courts are the only place that band members can do this,” he says.
Louie will be seen on the May 21 episode of APTN Investigates, For Trust Or Profit by John Murray.