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Court hears case about First Nations financial transparency

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Compiled by Shari Narine







On Aug. 18 and 19, the federal court in Saskatoon heard the case put forward by the Canadian government forcing five First Nations to abide by the First Nations Financial Transparency Act. Named by the federal government in the court action are Thunderchild, Ochapowace and Onion Lake bands in Saskatchewan and the Sawridge and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations in Alberta; the five First Nations have yet to comply to the FNFTA. Cold Lake First Nation, in Alberta, had been listed, but did provide its financial details to Aboriginal Affairs Canada. The five First Nations are arguing that Ottawa did not consult with them before enacting the FNFTA. The federal government set July 29 as the deadline for submitting 2014-2015 documents. Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt said bands that have yet to comply “will see funding for non-essential services withheld” starting Sept. 1. “Transparency and accountability is a good thing, and we totally support that, but it’s our own-source revenues that’s the big issue … it’s pretty heavy-handed,” said Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde, who was in attendance for some of the hearing. A rally was held outside the court house in support of the five First Nations.