Onion Lake First Nation appeals ruling ordering it to publish financial records

The Onion Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan is appealing a June court ruling ordering it to release financial information to its band members.

(Onion Lake Chief Wallace Fox was not available to comment on the community’s appeal.)

APTN National News

The Onion Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan is appealing a June court ruling ordering it to release financial information to its band members.

The case was brought by Charmaine Stick, who partnered with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation in 2016 to force the band to comply with the First Nations Financial Transparency Act – a law passed by the Stephen Harper Conservatives requiring First Nations to publish salaries and expenses online.

“This is like a bad joke,” said Stick who is a member of the Onion Lake band in a statement released Wednesday. “Because the chief and council can’t seriously think they can convince a judge or anyone else that they should be able to spend our community’s money without being open about what they’re spending it on.”

In November 2014, Onion Lake launched a $50 million court action against Ottawa over damages suffered as a result of “punitive measures” imposed by the federal Aboriginal Affairs department after the Cree community refused to publicly disclose its finances as required by recently passed legislation.

The legal action also seeks to have the Federal Court find that the legislation, known as the First Nation Financial Transparency Act, has no force on Onion Lake Cree Nation and that the legislation breaches the community’s treaty rights. Onion Lake is also seeking a ruling that finds Ottawa has breached its fiduciary duty.

Less than a year later, Federal Court of Canada Justice Robert Barnes ordered the federal government to stop pursuing legal action against several First Nations who have yet to submit their public financial disclosure to the federal Aboriginal Affairs department.

But according to Stick, 90 per cent of First Nations across the country have complied with the law.

“Why are they spending thousands of dollars on legal bills to appeal a court decision in favour of transparency? Grassroots people are demanding transparency and we’ll continue the struggle until we all know what’s happening with the money in First Nations communities,” she said.

In its first few months of being in office, the federal Liberals said they would not enforce the compliance measures in the transparency act and lifted sanctions against communities that refused to abide by the law.

The government said it would bring in measures in a more cooperative way.

An administrator in the Onion Lake band office said officials at the moment have “no comment” about the appeal – but did say the community of 6,200 does have access to the band’s financial records. The administrator would not say if those records included salaries and expenses.

2007-2008 was the last time the community filed an audited statement with Indigenous Affairs.

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4 thoughts on “Onion Lake First Nation appeals ruling ordering it to publish financial records

  1. Other nations that complied are obviously not hiding anything..a big prop up to them!!!
    The more transparency, the better people will behave and realize not to act so greedy.

  2. There is no abuse of power at all. As a nation as a whole people have been blessed with a hom and given the option to buy your own home. But it isnt nor was it suppose to be made for members to squander the money by not caring for the home. When the home is new ans in just a few yeara looks like 30 years old is not the responsibilty of the band to keep renovating the home you abuse. Members also have to grow up and be mature tennents. No one is racist or prejudice when told either you shape up or ship out. Same applies outside of the reserve. The band of Onion Lake has been very lenient towards its members. It isnt about power abused its about all of us working towards quality and equality for all. We were made human first before anything else. We are responsible for our own selves and encouraged to be independent. But how could you say power is abused when their hands are tied by government themselves. Government and indian affairs knows how much money is infiltrated into our bands and its limited amount and everyone wants a piece of it. Someone has tobhave that fiduciary responsiblility in a fair manner. The population is growing and ahortage of home but we cannot say Onion Lake is embezzling when funds are limited and wheels of ecomony have slowed us all down as a nation. Money is tight every where. Lets me mindful and not rip our own narion apart. There are healthier ways to approach things.

  3. That is an abuse of power. Sick of that Chief using his authority to disadvantage the band members.

    1. The chief on are reserve makes $183 thousand per year . And says we are greedy when we asked more than $4000 distribution after getting a $116 million dollar settler.

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