Some Attawapiskat Residents At Odds With Chief
Some residents of Attawapiskat First Nations support the government's plan to put the reserve under third-party management, a move strongly opposed by the chief and band council.
"I think it would be a good thing. We need to clean up our financial crisis here in Attawapiskat because it's been like this too long now," Greg Shisheesh, a former deputy chief of the reserve, told CBC News in a phone interview.
"I was happy to hear the federal government was stepping in to clean the mess up."
Shisheesh, who said he has lived on the reserve all his life, said he believes a forensic audit should be conducted on a number of organizations on the reserve, including the band office and economic development office.
"If our leaders have nothing to hide, by all means do it."
Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence has vehemently rejected the imposition of a third-party manager.
"She says that and she didn't even ask the whole community what we thought about it. She never asked us," Shisheesh said. "The way the chief and council operate is totally opposite. They decide and then bring it to us after."
Spence also said on Monday she will use the courts if necessary to resist the imposition of a third-party manager.
Martha Sutherland, a tribe elder, told CBC News she is frustrated with the reserve leadership.
"We want to hear what the Indian Affairs has to say, the third party, and we want to meet with them so we can voice our concerns."
Sutherland said that at a recent public meeting on the reserve, those who attended also voiced support for a third-party manager. But Sutherland said Spence was dead set against the idea.
"She said we don't want third-party management. [But] who is included there? Is that from the chief and council only? Because a lot of people were asking that they need to clean the office. They need that third-party management here."
Spence told CBC News that she has invited federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan and his team to come to the troubled community themselves to look at the books. Spence said she feels bringing in private-sector consultant Jacques Marion would do more harm than good
Spence said the costs to the band would be enormous. Marion, who is with BDO Canada LLP, would receive $1,300 a day to a maximum of $180,000 between now and the end of June, but Spence said the money would be better spent on band programs.
A reserve member, who didn't want to be identified, said leadership on the reserve is like a dictatorship. "It's bad enough that we're under the Indian Act, but it just seems like our leadership becomes the oppressor in the end.
"It's always been like that," the resident said.
"Everybody always thinks they have answers for the people. They like to have the control over our lives. But there are people who are educated and outspoken in the community who are told to be quiet. because in the end it's always the chief and council that have a say about the community.
"Outsiders always look to the chief and council for answers and not to the people."