Court of Queen’s Bench orders Onion Lake Cree Nation to publish the band’s basic financial information

First Nations activist wins precedent setting court victory for financial transparency

By —— Bio and Archives--June 17, 2017

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SASKATOON, SK: First Nations activist Charmaine Stick and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) are celebrating a precedent setting court victory to strengthen band members’ rights to demand financial transparency from their leaders.

“First Nations leaders have a sacred responsibility to serve the grassroots people and that means being open about what’s happening with our money,” said Ms Stick, a member of the Onion Lake Cree Nation. “For years I’ve been demanding answers from our leaders and they’ve told me I’d never get anywhere, but today’s court ruling proves that all of us have the right to hold our chief and council accountable.

“My kids will have a better life because they’ll know our leaders have to be honest when they’re serving our people.”

Ms Stick partnered with the CTF to launch a court application to compel leadership at the Onion Lake Cree Nation to publish salaries and expenses paid to the chief and council as well as audited financial statements. The overwhelming majority of First Nations routinely publish this information as required by The First Nations Financial Transparency Act, but Onion Lake has consistently ignored the law and refuses to disclose its financial details. The federal government stopped enforcing the act in 2015.

Today the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench ruled that Onion Lake must follow the law and publish basic financial information as required by The First Nations Financial Transparency Act.

“It is accordingly ordered that Onion Lake comply with the duties imposed by s. 7 of the Act, within 30 days,” wrote Justice B.A. Barrington-Foote.

“Charmaine Stick deserves to know what her leaders are doing with her band’s money,” said Todd MacKay, Prairie Director for the CTF. “The legal precedent set with this case means that Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett must act to enforce transparency on behalf of grassroots people in First Nations communities.

“We’re so proud of Charmaine for taking this stand and we’re honoured that she worked with us to win this court victory.”

The full court decision is available here.

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