04/06/2012 10:32 EDT | Updated 06/06/2012 05:12 EDT

Attawapiskat To Keep Court Date With Federal Government Even After Plan To Withdraw Third-Party Manager


ATTAWAPISKAT, Ont. - The Attawapiskat First Nation says it won't drop legal action against the federal government over the appointment of a third-party manager to handle the band's finances.

That's despite the fact the government announced on Thursday that Jacques Marion is being withdrawn by April 19.

The government indicated Thursday it's satisfied with progress in the management of the reserve.

The band issued a news release Friday saying it welcomes the news, but still intends to proceed with legal action launched last year to try to block Marion's appointment.

The band's news release says it wants the courts to "refute" Prime Minister Stephen Harper's suggestion that the band mismanaged federal funds in the face of a housing crisis.

The community of 2,000 declared a state of emergency last October after a severe housing shortage forced more than two dozen families to live in temporary shelters, some without insulation or plumbing.

The band also wants the federal court to declare that Marion's appointment was unlawful _ a hearing is set for April 24.

Marion's appointment drew fierce criticism, the latest attack occurred last week when band officials accused them of failing to send money on time to students from the community who are studying off the reserve.

Marion was late sending the monthly allowance that many of the post-secondary students need for food, rent and expenses, aboriginal leaders said.

“The failure to pay post-secondary allowances to students at a critical time in their studies was simply the latest in a series of failures by the Third Party Manager to administer the First Nation’s funding responsibly” Chief Theresa Spence said in the release.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan announced earlier Thursday that the money is now in the students' accounts, but critics had said it didn't flow quickly enough.

Government officials said Thursday that Marion was not being withdrawn because he had done a bad job, but due to the fact the band had done a good job in improving the health and safety conditions that had required the outside control in the first place.

They said the 25 families affected by the housing crisis were now living in better conditions.