(Norway House Chief Ron Evans. APTN/File)
APTN National News
A Manitoba First Nation chief currently visiting Israel is facing a probe back home of his community’s books by the federal Indigenous Affairs department.
Indigenous Affairs has asked auditing firm KPMG to sift through the books of Norway House Cree Nation, according to a statement from the department. The review is meant to establish the “scope of a possible forensic audit,” said the statement.
The department said the “financial review” of the community was launched after its audit and evaluation sector received allegations concerning suspected financial irregularities related to Norway House and Chief Ron Evans.
“It is not possible at this stage to determine the completion date of this financial review as it will be based on what is found during the review process,” said the statement.
Evans is currently in Israel this week as part of a “youth leadership development mission,” according to an article published by the Canadian Jewish News.
Evans, who has visited Israel three times in the last five years, is expected to remain in Israel with the youth delegation until March 2, the article said.
During an interview with APTN Friday, Evans did not mention his impending trip to Israel. APTN only learned of the trip late Sunday.
Evans said during the interview that KPMG auditors recently contacted the band’s director of finance requesting information.
“(KPMG) was provided with whatever information they requested,” said Evans.
Evans said he believed the financial review was triggered by a complaint over “salaries and travel.” He said the band council had nothing to hide.
“All our information is posted,” said Evans. “They are all on the website.”
Larson Anderson, the former general manager for Norway House’s property management department, filed a complaint with Indigenous Affairs’ audit and evaluation branch in November concerning Evans’ per diems and travel expenses.
Anderson said he was pleased to hear the department was now investigating the band’s books.
“I feel very pleased that (Indigenous Affairs) listened to our pleas of accountability and transparency for our First Nation,” said Anderson. “I am hoping that justice will prevail.”
This is not the first time Evans has come under scrutiny over his handling of finances. In 2013, APTN obtained an internal report from the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs that alleged Evans, while grand chief of the organization, used an education charity as a piggy bank to cover the organization’s debts.