APTN National News
The people who search for former students for Blott and Company work for a company called Honour Walk.
The connection between Honour Walk and Blott and Company is clear.
Honour Walk was incorporated on Jan. 6, 2007. An Alberta corporate search reveals that one person is listed as an officer of Honour Walk. His name is Thom Denomme.
On a Web site for another of his business ventures, Thom Denomme is described as “a self-made entrepreneur who has been working with the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada for close to twenty years. [H]is extensive background in First Nations communities adds an important dimension to the group. He is the founder of the Residential School Healing Society of Canada, CEO of Honour Walk, and a director of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce’s Aboriginal Opportunities Committee.”
Denomme was also listed as an officer of the Residential School Healing Society of Alberta, originally incorporated on Nov. 9, 2006.
On June 2, 2008, the company changed its name to the Residential School Healing Society of Canada as it expanded its operations beyond the Alberta border.
Honour Walk and the Residential School Healing Society of Canada are closely connected.
A call to a number listed as the Residential School Healing Society of Canada office in Hobbema, AB during business hours on Nov. 16 reached this recorded message:
“Tansi, you’ve reached the office of Honour Walk in Hobbema. We do IAP applications at this office. So if that’s what you’re phoning about please leave your name and number and then we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. If you currently have a claim with Blott and Associates, in order to get the status of your claim, please call [phone number]. Hai hai.”
Then another recorded voice added:
“The mailbox belonging to Residential School Healing Society of Canada is full.”
When the Residential School Healing Society of Alberta originally applied for incorporation, the application form was signed by Trevor LaFayette, of Tofield, AB. The officers listed (in order) are: David Hamm, of Calgary; Thom Denomme, of Bragg Creek, AB; Jennifer MacKenzie, of Bragg Creek; Nadine Standing Alone, of Cardston.
The witness who signed the application for incorporation was David Blott.
The signatures of all those people also appear below the statement of corporate by-laws, with Blott once again signing as the witness.
LaFayette works out of Honour Walk’s Edmonton office.
Hamm and Denomme are Calgary entrepreneurs.
MacKenzie signs her emails “Paralegal for Blott & Company.”
Standing Alone worked for the now-closed Chief Mountain Healing Centre in Alberta. She is from the Blood Reserve.
Many people interviewed by APTN Investigates on the Blood Reserve last summer said it was well known in the community that Standing Alone recruited clients for Blott and Company.
When the Residential School Healing Society of Canada changed its name, two new directors were added to the list: Lee Aaron, of Edmonton, and Michael Smith, of Brocket, AB.
Aaron works for Honour Walk in Edmonton.
After the company name changed, McKenzie was no longer listed as a director or officer of the company. Hamm is no longer named on the list of directors but he is listed as the company secretary.
Honour Walk employs many form fillers. A house in Bragg Creek, AB houses about a dozen of them. The company also has offices in Edmonton, Hobbema, Cardston, AB, Saskatoon and Regina.
That house in Bragg Creek is another clear connection between Blott and Company and Honour Walk. The registered corporate office address for the Residential School Healing Society of Canada is a post office box in Bragg Creek.
A search of land title records shows that a numbered corporation of which David Blott is the sole officer, purchased the home and the 9.34 acre lot for $1.1 million on June 28.
Earlier this year, neighbors complained to the local government that nobody was living in this house in an upscale rural residential neighborhood but instead a business employing 10 to 15 people was being operated there, in violation of local by-laws. An angry group of local residents found out who owned the house and contacted Blott with their complaints. But they say it was Thom Denomme and Jennifer McKenzie who arrived to explain what was going on. They said the home was the base for the Residential School Healing Society of Canada.
Municipal District of Foothills by-law enforcement officer Denise Stewart told APTN Investigates she informed the owner of the property that he had to apply for a variance of the by-law or he would have to shut the business down. She would not comment on whom she communicated with.
Coincidentally, area residents say Blott applied for that variance on October 31, the same day the court suspended his firm from contacting clients. The by-law matter will go before the local council in the coming weeks.
One of the many sources who approached APTN Investigates with concerns about how Honour Walk form fillers do their work is Kelly Busch. She worked as a manager and form filler for Honour Walk in Saskatoon and provides another connection between Honour Walk and Blott and Company.
“Honour Walk did not have an office in Saskatoon. It was Blott and Company’s office and I was given office space and a key to the building in Saskatoon by . . . David Blott,” she said.
It appears the Residential Schools Healing Society of Canada has now been wound up. The company was “struck off” the corporate rolls in Alberta on May 2 for “failure to file annual returns.” Annual returns for the years 2008, 2009 and 2010 are still outstanding, according to corporate records obtained on Nov. 25.
Sources familiar with corporate procedure in Alberta say it is not a sign of any wrong doing for a company to be struck off. But the fact that this company is no longer an active corporation does narrow the number of companies doing form filling for Blott and Company down to one: Honour Walk.
Honour Walk mentions Blott and Company in its legal forms that clients must sign to complete their IAP application form. It appears that the law firm and the form filling company deal only with each other.
APTN Investigates asked two lawyers who handle IAP claims in Alberta if they had ever had clients referred to them by Honour Walk. Both said “no.”
“We have never had any clients referred to us by Honour Walk,” Jon Faulds of Fields Law in Edmonton said.
“To my knowledge they worked exclusively with Mr. Blott, but I do not have all the evidence on that point,” Vaughn Marshall said.
Several sources told us Honour Walk pays the form fillers a certain amount per form filled out. One documents obtained by APTN Investigates shows that there was an ongoing struggle to get the forms filled out correctly. Each form filler received $150 or more per client signed up correctly, but they would be docked money for mistakes. The two-page long document points out many errors and demands they be corrected or money will deducted from future pay cheques.
The document also reveals that clients were “disappearing” from the company’s database.
“I am to check [two clients] who have disappeared. In addition to that, the permanently missing are the first 8 from the April 24th list dating all the way back to Aug 13th of last year. These have also disappeared off the database for some reason so I feel sorry for these folks,” stated the person who wrote the document.
Vaughn Marshall says he was approached by then Residential School Society of Alberta company director David Hamm, once several years ago, about establishing a form filling relationship with his firm. He says he told Hamm that neither he nor any of his clients would have any dealings with him.
He made his feelings known about Honour Walk’s approach early on.
“We believe the applications should be done by lawyers. I’ve known about Honour Walk since almost the beginning and I myself would not have any dealings with Honour Walk, nor would I have any dealings with Mr. Hamm. I was approached by Mr. Hamm and I told him we would have no dealings with him or his company. He expressed surprise, which I found surprising. I told him I thought it would be improper for us to have any dealings with him. More importantly, we would not have any dealings with him on behalf of ourselves or on behalf of our clients. Period. End of story,” Marshall said.
The lawyer said he believes most law firms would not enter into the kind of arrangement Blott and Company have with Honour Walk.
“It would surprise me if they dealt with anybody else because how would they get the approval on the upfront fee that had to be paid to Honor Walk? I believe that if any lawyer in the National consortium was presented with the kind of paperwork that Honor Walk made the clients fill out, they would immediately set aside that and inform the company who obtained that kind of documentation that there would be no payment on it,” he said.
IAP clients signed up by Honour Walk must sign an “Acknowledgements, Representations and Agreements” form which states “I understand and agree that any law firm retained by me shall be required to pay Honour Walk’s $4,000 document collection fee on my behalf otherwise such fee is my own responsibility and I am fully liable for its payment.”
Marshall sees that to be an assignment, something expressly forbidden by the late Donald Brenner in 2007 when he was chief justice of the British Columbia Supreme Court.