12/08/2014 04:09 EST | Updated 02/07/2015 05:59 EST

Feds Going To Court To Force 6 First Nations To Post Finances

OTTAWA - The federal government is going to court in an effort to force six defiant First Nations to publicly post their financial information online.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt says his department will continue to withhold non-essential funding from almost 50 First Nations that failed to meet last month's government-imposed deadline under a new Conservative transparency law.

But the government is also asking the Federal Court to force six First Nations in Alberta and Saskatchewan to publish audited financial statements and the salaries and expenses of their chiefs and band council members.

"First Nations, like all Canadians, deserve transparency and accountability from their elected leaders," Valcourt said in a statement Monday.

The targeted bands include the Council of First Nations of Thunderchild, Ochapowace and Onion Lake in Saskatchewan and the Sawridge, Athabasca Chipewayan and Cold Lake First Nations in Alberta.

Leaders of the six bands have flatly stated they will not be complying with the new rules.

The Onion Lake Cree Nation had already launched its own Federal Court bid late last month in an effort to overturn Bill C-27, the Conservatives' First Nations Financial Transparency Act.

Aboriginal leaders call the new rules a breach of their indigenous rights and say they are a sideshow designed to distract attention from chronic government underfunding.

"Not only is C-27 a breach of our historic treaty relationship, it is a denial of our international right of self-determination as indigenous nations," Western Canadian First Nations from Treaties 4, 6 and 7 said in a news release last month.

"In no other place in Canada do such oppressive conditions exist under the coercive force of the federal government than Indian reserves."

The Conservative legislation required First Nations to post audited financial statements and information about the salaries and expenses of chiefs and councillors on a public website within four months of fiscal year end, March 31, 2014.

As of Monday, 535 of 582 First Nations had complied.

Valcourt's statement said the transparency law "has made financial information more accessible to First Nation members, which leads to more effective, transparent and accountable governance as well as stronger, more self-sufficient and prosperous communities."

Follow @bcheadle on Twitter

Also on HuffPost

Photo gallery MPs of First Nation, Inuit Or Métis Descent See Gallery