Fifty First Nations, including Onion Lake Cree Nation, are still withholding their financial reports, according to the federal minister of Aboriginal Affairs.
Late Monday, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs Bernard Valcourt announced the launch of a lawsuit forcing six of those 50 First Nations into releasing their financial audits to comply with the federal law.
The First Nations Financial Transparency Act (FNFT), that was passed in 2013, asks First Nations across the country to publish audited financial statements and the salaries and expenses of their chiefs and band council members.
Valcourt said in a prepared statement that the members of six First Nations that are withholding their financial statements deserve transparency.
“That is why we passed the (FNFTA), which empowers First Nation members to ensure band revenues are used for the benefit of the entire community,” he said.
“Effective immediately, we are taking court action as provided by the act against band governments who have indicated their intention not to comply with the act.”
Valcourt said that he has directed his department to bring applications to the federal court ordering the six band governments to publish audited consolidation financial statements.
Along with Onion Lake, the other council of First Nations who were named in the suit were Thunderchild, Ochapowace in Saskatchewan; and Sawridge, Athabasca Chipewyan and Cold Lake in Alberta, have been named in the lawsuit.
“With this act, our government has made financial information more accessible to First Nation members, which leads to more effective, transparent and accountable governance as well as stronger, more self-sufficient and prosperous communities,” Valcourt added.
Numerous attempts were made to reach representatives at the Onion Lake Cree Nation to comment on this story.