03/21/2014 06:20 EDT | Updated 05/21/2014 05:59 EDT

Some Saskatchewan First Nations won't sign federal funding agreements

SASKATOON - Several Saskatchewan First Nations are voicing their displeasure with what they say is the unfair way the Harper government is conducting funding agreements.

Nine leaders from aboriginal communities held a news conference in Saskatoon on Friday to say they won’t be signing current federal funding agreements or will do so only under duress.

The First Nations leaders say the federal government is requiring them to comply with onerous auditing standards that no other party is required to meet in order to qualify for the transfer of funds.

Onion Lake First Nation Chief Wallace Fox says he has no intention of signing the current funding agreement and adds he is willing to live with consequences.

Thunderchild First Nation Chief Delbert Wapass adds he can’t understand why First Nations have to present audited financial statements for ventures that do not use federal funds.

“Why are First Nations asked to do a consolidated audit on their businesses when you’ve used no dollars of INAC money to create those businesses,” he asked.

“It’s legalized extortion and I said that last year — state-sanctioned extortion of their policy, either you sign or you starve,” Fox said.

The First Nations say they are willing to make do without the funding rather than comply with what they say are regulations that violate treaty rights.