Wednesday afternoon, the Onion Lake Cree Nation filed a statement of claim against the federal government over Bill C-27, The First Nations Financial Transparency Act.
Onion Lake Chief (Wallace) Okimaw Fox, of the Onion Lake Cree Nation, submitted the statement of claim against the federal government in the Edmonton federal court.
Fox said that the reason behind submitting the claim Wednesday was because of the ultimatum the federal government gave First Nations reserves that didn’t comply with The First Nations Financial Transparency Act by the deadline of midnight on Wednesday.
Fox said in the press conference that this ultimatum has been in the form of threatening letters that have stated the federal government would be withholding federal money to the reserves who did not comply with Bill C-27.
“This has been ongoing for many, many years, every March of every fiscal year, we are forced into a fiscal agreement based on (the federal government’s) rules and their policies,” Fox said during the press conference. “There is no room for negotiation based on the needs of every First Nation.”
According to the statement of claim, Bill C-27 will cause loss of revenue and harm to the First Nation.
“Indian moneys are generated from the sale of surrendered land, interest and revenues from the plaintiff’s owned and operated commerce, there, as a result, Indian moneys derived from capital moneys and revenue moneys is private property of the plaintiff.
“The minister of Aboriginal Affairs now compels the plaintiff, Onion Lake to publish its own private, corporate audited financial statements for public disclosure by way of a website. Public disclosure will result in harm to the plaintiff, Onion Lake, by way of losses and damages,” the statement claimed.
Fox stated that the Onion Lake Cree Nation has worked independently to gain more revenue and if they didn’t they would be in a worse position than they are in now.
“We have no recourse. If we did not have our own source of revenue than we would be in the same dire straights as many of our brothers and sisters across Canada,” he said.
“If we would wait for the federal government to provide, which they are supposed to supply, then we would be still waiting, and we would not have what we have today.”
According to the website StopC27.ca, Bill C-27 encroaches on treaty nations’ jurisdictions, and First Nations have a responsibility to uphold the legacy left by their ancestors.
“The new law was to come into effect in July 2014. Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) claims the legislation is meant to bring about more accountability and transparency from leadership. However, after careful review of the legislation its purpose is aimed at more control and paternalism from Ottawa,” he said.
Asked what about the interest of the Onion Lake community, Fox said, “Our interest is always for the people of our community. We have taken steps to ensure that nothing is disrupted in the livelihoods of our people.”
Fox said that the statement of claim, names the governor general of Canada.
“The governor general is the queens representative in Canada ... and (he) has neglected to provide consent,” for the First Nations community on the issue of Bill C-27.
Others who were named in the statement were the Attorney General of Canada, and the minister of Aboriginal Affairs.
More to come….