Clayton Kennedy, Theresa Spence's Spouse, Declared Bankruptcy Before Taking Charge Of Attawapiskat's Books

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Attawapiskat First Nations Chief Theresa Spence leaves Victoria Island as she continues her hunger strike in Ottawa, Wednesday January 9, 2013 THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Attawapiskat First Nations Chief Theresa Spence leaves Victoria Island as she continues her hunger strike in Ottawa, Wednesday January 9, 2013 THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand

OTTAWA - Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence's romantic partner — once in charge of the books at the troubled northern Ontario reserve — has had his own money problems in the past.

Public records show Clayton Kennedy declared bankruptcy five years before he became the band's money man. He declared debts of $24,380 and assets of $2,403 in his September 1996 bankruptcy filing.

Kennedy's money problems come to light as Attawapiskat and Spence face questions over a scathing audit of the band's books that found a missing paper trail for millions of dollars between 2005 and 2011.

Part of the period covered by the Deloitte audit overlaps with Kennedy's second tenure as the band's co-manager.

Between 2001 and 2004, Kennedy was the band's director of finance, co-manager and band manager. He returned as the band's co-manager and director of finance in July 2010 before leaving the job last summer.

Kennedy refused to speak about the bankruptcy when contacted by The Canadian Press.

"The matter you are referencing to is a personal matter unrelated to the leaked Deloitte audit report," he said in an email.

"As such the Deloitte audit report has been responded to already. The issue I am dealing with is the health of Chief Spence and children. Please respect that."

He did not respond to questions in a follow-up email or a call to his Ottawa hotel room, where he has been staying as Spence continues her protest, subsisting on fish broth and medicinal tea on an island in the Ottawa River.

An unidentified man who answered a call to Kennedy's hotel room said he was not there.

A one-page summary available through the website of the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada provides no further details about the nature of Kennedy's financial issues.

The bankruptcy office says Kennedy's paper file was destroyed last October. The office keeps hard copies of bankruptcy records only for a limited time.

Kennedy defended the band's accounting practices in an interview this week with the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network or APTN.

"If everyone is so concerned about the lack of documentation, then fine, come back, start contacting the suppliers, go through the banks, get into it in a little more detail because I don't think you'll find any misappropriation of funds," he told the network.

Kennedy has an accounting background that stretches back 40 years.

He completed four of the five necessary levels of training to be a certified general accountant between 1973 and 1979, according to an affidavit he swore after Spence declared a state of emergency over a housing shortage in Attawapiskat.

Neither CGA Canada nor its provincial affiliates in Ontario and Manitoba — professional bodies that grant the CGA designation — could find any record of Kennedy taking courses to become a certified general accountant.

"As far as our records show, there is no record of this individual as a member, a member in good standing, a certified general accountant — whichever you want to phrase it — or as a student," said Amy Mulhern, a spokesperson for the Ontario organization.

"Now, that could also be that records dating back 40 years are pretty hard to find, if they haven't already been shredded or destroyed at this point."

Kennedy did not respond to questions about his training.

Kennedy worked as an accountant in 1979, managing the George Jeffrey Children's Centre in Thunder Bay, Ont., for about 15 years, his affidavit says.

The affidavit also says he holds a two-year certificate in health-care administration from Ottawa-based Certified Health Services Executives, which he says he completed around 1997.

He says he has worked for several other First Nations in finance, project management and administration since 2000.

Corporate documents show Kennedy incorporated a business called Moo Shum Enterprises in October 2003 — roughly two years after he first started working in Attawapiskat.

In his affidavit, Kennedy said the company provides "expertise and advice primarily in the areas of finance and management."

The company's office is listed as an address in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. A Google Street View image shows the property to be a white and beige, two-storey residential home on a modestly sized, treed lot. A property search shows a Eunice Kennedy sold the property in 2007. The new owner does not appear to have any connection to Clayton Kennedy.

Kennedy left Attawapiskat in 2004. In July 2009, the band was looking for a new co-manager. The job was advertised in newspapers in the Ontario communities of Thunder Bay, Sudbury and Timmins, according to a document on the band's website.

The band says it received five applications. Kennedy's company was shortlisted, but council ultimately gave the job to another big accounting firm, BDO Dunwoody. That deal lasted less than a year. Under a tight, Aboriginal Affairs-imposed deadline to find a new co-manager, the band council once again looked to Kennedy. He returned to work in Attawapiskat in July 2010.

The band issued a news release in late 2011 saying Spence was not in any of the meetings where council talked about bringing Kennedy back to Attawapiskat.

The contract between Kennedy's company and the band shows he earned $850 a day. He told APTN that is well below the going rate.

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