INAC launches financial review of B.C. First Nation, while RCMP continues investigation

Kenneth Jackson
APTN National News
Indigenous Affairs has called in auditing firm KPMG to do a financial review of Peters First Nation in British Columbia after an APTN National News investigation found questionable payments last month.

“If the review uncovers evidence of what (INAC) believes to be fraud or other illegal activity, (INAC) will refer the file to the RCMP. This referral would take place upon completion of the review,” said Colin Stobo, a senior investigator with INAC’s Assessment and Investigation Services Branch (AISB).

The RCMP is already investigating Peters band council, as reported by APTN Tuesday.

The RCMP received a complaint against the band council in early March following the first of seven stories APTN has published on the First Nation located between Chilliwack and Hope, B.C.

The RCMP investigation ramped up after APTN opened the books on Peters last month.

It was after that story that the RCMP received more detailed documents, including a breakdown of financial documents belonging to Peters.

While the RCMP has refused to comment, APTN has learned the investigation has been assigned to two officers who are in the early stages of their investigation.

The complaint was made by several members of Peters band, and APTN has also learned the investigators have been contacted by additional potential witnesses in the last few days.

Meanwhile, INAC has developed terms of reference for the KPMG probe that were obtained by APTN. View the terms here.

The terms basically mirror APTN’s story in April that focused on a two-year period from 2013-15 based on court documents, audits, emails and financial ledgers for those years.

The RCMP investigation goes back more than a decade based on documents it has obtained.

APTN uncovered questionable payments and outlined how Peters First Nation’s three-member band council were allocated hundreds of thousands of dollars over a two-year period to operate a band with 12 homes on 131 hectares and little infrastructure.

Graph is based on the 2014/15 ledger belonging to Peters First Nation.
Graph is based on the 2014/15 ledger belonging to Peters First Nation.

The money was much more than what band council claimed to Indigenous Affairs for the fiscal years 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 according to the First Nations Transparency Act.

KPMG has been directed by INAC to focus on those years in its financial review of Peters, and the 2015-2016 fiscal year.

“Examine (Peters’) financial records for fiscal years 2013-14 to 2015-16 to determine if the allegations can be substantiated or refuted,” the terms state. “Determine the amount of INAC funding, if any, that was misappropriated during that period.”

APTN uncovered how money was allocated to members who are known to vote for council every two years. A closer look at the finances between 2013-2015 indicated that over 90 per cent of all expenditures to band members went to those who voted for council.

Graph is based on the 2014/15 ledger belonging to Peters First Nation.
Graph is based on the 2014/15 ledger belonging to Peters First Nation.

Documents show a young child of Coun. Victoria Peters was allocated thousands of dollars for addiction treatment but APTN couldn’t determine that the child had any addictions, and Victoria Peters refused to comment.

Victoria Peters also had over 10 jobs during that period, including band manager and social worker but she refused to say what qualifications she had.

Chief Norma Webb wouldn’t comment on why jobs weren’t posted for all members to apply.

APTN also found that a former councillor’s mother had been allocated tens of thousands in social assistance and allegedly didn’t qualify.

A 2015 audit uncovered that the band kept little paper trail of supporting documents for social assistance, and council members were signing cheques over to themselves, all of which the auditor said opened the band to the potential for “inappropriate payments”.

Indigenous Affairs approved the audit without question.

That same year Indigenous Affairs approved funding for a health program, run by Victoria Peters, without any supporting documentation on how the money would be spent.

APTN has repeatedly asked Webb to comment on the allegations, including the RCMP investigation, but she has refused and questioned if the RCMP was actually involved on Wednesday.

“We have asked for details of the alleged police investigation from those who we presume are your sources and received no response, nor have we been contacted by the R.C.M.P.,” Webb wrote.

APTN was told Webb was made aware of the financial review last week and didn’t respond to APTN’s latest questions on the review.

KPMG is expected to submit a draft report to INAC by July 31.

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6 thoughts on “INAC launches financial review of B.C. First Nation, while RCMP continues investigation

  1. How many more Bands are there that have “corrupt” Chief and Council managing
    the Bands $ or mismanaging $. Its awesome to see INAC getting involved they need to do random checks every few years especially after a “new C&C’ is elected. There is so much happening that Band members don’t know. You can’t hire “unqualified people” and expect to operate a Band. Nepotism has to stop! And members are afraid to say anything for fear of repercussion. A lot are there to line their own pockets and what about the “bookkeeper” or Accountant letting it happen . I could go on….

  2. INAC has enabled and condoned this type of corruption for years and years. The Indian Act has set up the system that enables Chief and Council to run a dictatorship within the bounds of each and every First Nations reserve in Canada. Through the Indian Act, C&C are given the power to make arbitrary decisions on behalf of the band without consultation to band members. This does not happen in the rest of Canada.

    In broad stream politics, there are democratic processes that are set in place to fail safe the type of issues now coming to light on Indian reserves. In broad stream politics, the elected party is answerable not only to their constituents but also to the opposing parties. FN band members do not have this safety measure to ensure their needs and desires are met. INAC is failing in their mandate to perform and protect the Indigenous peoples in Canada.

    The election process On Reserve is a democratic….STOP right there, because this is as far as the democratic process goes on reserve. We are allowed to elect, but beyond that democracy stops.
    Why are aboriginal people not allowed the same democratic process as non-aboriginals. This is a failing of the Indian Act and the ongoing reluctance of INAC to involve themselves beyond writing cheques is a shirking of their fiduciary duties.
    If INAC is deferring to the Indian Act in regards to the Peters’ request for justice, that is where their justice will stop. Black and white justice. This creates a yet another racial divide of inequality.

  3. I feel sorry for the people who have to get mistreated. It shouldn’t matter where a person wants to put they’re roots down. As a leader making a claim they own you and collect money for your well being, poof unseen, it’s a shameful the system surely needs upgrading it’s mandates to somehow send the money to the rightful person instead. Another improvement that can be added to improve lives and lastly to add, is housing. Our bands are funded to build houses for the members. ANDC should help off reserve members thrive by implementing a project to help with homelessness. Stop homelessness and offer housing to any member.

  4. Finally. A former employee of Vancouver Region INAC who retired in 2012 2013 was fully aware of our issues with Band Council spanning thirty years and prior to his quick retirement was assisting us. His immediate replacement was versed on our Band and advised me that there is a history of Peter’s Band which is well known to Vancouver region office staff. Our only recourse was to sue INAC and the Band. Good luck I was told. Even though the employees were aware of discrepancies and wrongful doing of Peters band Council. They chose to do nothing. Our file I was told in 2013 was the largest archive and present day file in their office. Again. Who has enabled the continued misuse of funds of governance and power? INAC is just as responsible for breach in their fiduciary responsibility to not only us but the tax payers of Canada.

    1. This is just the tip of the ice berg. Look up First Nations Trust Fund on line. Billions, trillion Can. Is not allowing to move where supposed to.

    2. usually that is what happens, the retired come like hungry dogs to the trough ,.. the retired INAC employees that assisted us, was billing us, $500/hr for three years and nothing was accomplished at all,.. we had “the Chief that made more money than the prime minister,.. ” to day they’re running round traveling to Reno, around the world,… and still using their dead family members as employees,..

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