Thunderchild's leaders are getting more money than most First Nations leaders and that's something bandmembers need to talk about in the next election

Transparency strengthened at Thunderchild First Nation

By —— Bio and Archives--March 16, 2018

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Thunderchild First Nation
SASKATOON, SK: Activists from Thunderchild First Nation achieved a significant step to restore accountability and transparency after band leaders agreed to release the community’s basic financial documents. Bandmember Harrison Thunderchild partnered with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) to launch a court application seeking release of the documents—that application is now being withdrawn.


“My father’s Cree name was Sapwasohpihness, which means: ‘truthful spirit so clean it hides nothing and you can see right through it,’ and now Thunderchild First Nation on the road to restoring the heritage he passed down to us,” said Harrison Thunderchild, whose father served as chief and whose grandfather, Chief Thunderchild, brought the band into Treaty Six. “Grassroots bandmembers deserve leaders who are open and honest and that means publishing documents that show what’s happening with the community’s money.”

Thunderchild First Nation provided Harrison Thunderchild with the band’s audited financial statements as well as documents showing the salaries and expenses for the chief and council. All of those documents are now publicly available at this LINK.

The overwhelming majority of First Nations routinely publish basic financial documents as required by The First Nations Financial Transparency Act. Thunderchild First Nation refused to comply with the law and challenged it in court. Harrison Thunderchild and the CTF partnered to launch a court application to require the band to follow the law after the CTF succeeded with a similar application regarding Onion Lake Cree Nation (that decision is now awaiting a final decision from the Court of Appeal). Thunderchild First Nation released the required documents rather than proceeding in court.

“Harrison showed real courage by calling on his band’s leaders to follow the law and respect tradition by providing transparency,” said Todd MacKay, the CTF’s Prairie Director. “We’re honoured to work with Harrison to reaffirm the rights of grassroots people in First Nations communities to hold their leaders accountable.”

The documents show that Chief Delbert Wapass received a salary of $90,000 and another $63,642 in expenses in 2016. The rest of council averaged $61,428 in salary and $33,244 in expenses. The national average is $58,856 for the chief’s salary with $18,859 in expenses and $35,235 in salary for council members with another $10,364 in expenses. The average income for residents in Thunderchild First Nation is $15,811.

“Thunderchild’s leaders are getting more money than most First Nations leaders and that’s something bandmembers need to talk about in the next election,” said Harrison. “Making these documents public make it possible for us to have those discussions.”


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