21 Northern First Nations face funding freeze
Over half of First Nations groups in the territories missed Sept. 1 deadline
By Kyle Muzyka, CBC News, Sept 3, 2015
Many First Nations groups across the North are at risk of losing federal funding after failing to publish their financial information to the public by a Sept. 1 deadline.
Seventeen groups from the Northwest Territories and four from the Yukon are among the 197 First Nations bands across the country that have not released their financial information as of the deadline.
The First Nations Financial Transparency Act (FNFTA) requires 581 bands across Canada to release the financial information. For those that failed to file their finances in time, some government funding will cease.
The funding withheld will be for non-essential use, according to Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt. This means the federal government will still provide funding for essential use, such as housing, education and health.
Non-essential funding includes funding for things such as youth programs, as well as the chief and council’s salary.
The list of First Nations in the North that did not publish their financial information by the deadline, as listed by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, are:
N.W.T. First Nations that did not publish financial information as of Sept. 2
- Acho Dene Koe First Nation
- Deh Gah Got’ie Dene First Nation
- Deline First Nation
- Deninu K’ue First Nation
- Fort Good Hope
- Gwichya Gwich’in
- Inuvik Native
- Jean Marie River First Nation
- K’atlodeeche First Nation
- Liidlii Kue First Nation
- Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation
- Nahanni Butte
- Pehdzeh Ki First Nation
- Sambaa K’e (Trout Lake) Dene
- Tetlit Gwich’in
- West Point First Nation
- Yellowknives Dene First Nation
Yukon First Nations that did not publish financial information as of Sept. 2
- Daylu Dena Council
- Dease River
- Liard First Nation
- Taku River Tlingit
Aboriginal Affairs says the financial information may take up to two days to process, so the list could shrink in the following days. The Nahanni Butte Dene Band says they have filed their finances, and hope to be erased off the list over the next day or two.
Other bands say they have not filed as of yet, because the process is costly and complicated.
A band that did not file of note is the Liard First Nation in the Yukon. They are one of 10 bands that did not file last year, either.
The federal government has since taken them to court to force them to open their books.
‘They’re not taxpayers’ dollars’
Though many First Nations bands have not published their finances because of the long and complicated process, others, such as Dene National Chief Bill Erasmus, say they shouldn’t have to release the information to the general public.
“The monies that we’re talking about are not public funds, they’re not taxpayers’ dollars,” Erasmus said.
“This is why we’re adamant that this relationship is between the federal government, ourselves and our own citizens.”
Some bands feel the Harper government’s request is hypocritical, considering the PM’s top staffers aren’t required to share their salaries with the public.
But regardless of how some may feel, funding will cease for the bands that failed to release their financial information, and will continue until First Nations comply.