Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

AMC stands by Southern Chiefs Organization

  • Print
SCO Grand Chief Murray Clearsky was suspended with pay.

JESSICA BURTNICK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ARCHIVES Enlarge Image

SCO Grand Chief Murray Clearsky was suspended with pay. Photo Store

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs extended an offer to help its political sister organization today after a spending scandal threatened to overwhelm the Southern Chiefs Organization.

Southern First Nation chiefs suspended their leader, Grand Chief Murray Clearsky, but they allowed him to keep his salary. The decision came Tuesday morning after an all-night session to debate what to do.

They delivered the same penalty to Clearsky’s chief of staff, Mike Bear.

That decision, plus a plan of action to probe the allegations, were the twin results of a marathon session that lasted seven hours overnight at the Victoria Inn.

It is alleged the grand chief used $10,000 of the group’s money on a Minnesota gambling excursion and a trip to an amusement park in August and September. That scandal tainted the lobby group and the more it spread, the worse it got.

Monday night’s session amounted to a trial before his peers; Clearsky intended to give his side of the story to the chiefs and then speak publicly. In the end, with a lawyer at his elbow, the grand chief made no public statements.

He is accused of tapping into the organization’s funds to the tune of $10,000 on excursions to the Mystic Lake Casino in northern Minnesota and a nearby amusement park. The allegations have not been proven.

Mike Bear faces a sexual harassment complaint filed by a former staffer at SCO with the Canadian Human Rights Commission. The commission’s investigation is underway but there are no findings yet.

Up till now, political groups such as AMC have quietly watched as the scandal spread from gossip to headlines, all from the sidelines.

But now that the chiefs have acted, the province’s biggest political aboriginal group is stepping forward.

In its statement, it’s clear that AMC sees that whatever happens to SCO will have an affect on AMC, too. The three groups frequently seek each other’s support on specific agendas.

Calls for comment yesterday after the statement was issued were not answered, so exactly what sort of help AMC offered is not clear.

The statement stressed the need for transparency when it comes to spending, especially when it’s a political leader handling the money.

But even more than the specifics, is a broader political principle of fiscal responsibility that now is also at stake, AMC indicated.

That’s especially true for aboriginal groups. While Ottawa has a financial duty to ensure First Nations can argue for their treaty interests, aboriginal lobby groups often find themselves at odds with the federal government across the negotiating table. Funding cuts are a harsh reality for today’s aboriginal groups.

The office of Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt reminded Manitoba chiefs of their fiscal obligations Monday, warning the chiefs that this scandal has put their funding on the line and they’re better do something quick.

Nepinak said a unity accord in 2011 allowed him to step up now because the accord binds AMC to SCO.

The accord, signed in 2011 between AMC and its sister groups, SCO and the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (northern chiefs), recognized their mutual political goals and set up a formal alliance to work together to advance common interests.

"It is my opinion, that we should also provide support in challenging and difficult times," Nepinak said in the statement.

"Clear lines of communication have to be established and consistently exercised along lines of financial accountability in political organizations. If there are gaps or challenges in ensuring strong lines of communication, AMC is willing to assist in any way we can," the statement read.

 

alexandra.paul@winnipegfreepress.com

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Gail Asper says museum honours her father’s vision

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press. Local- WINTER FILE. Snowboarder at Stony Mountain Ski Hill. November 14, 2006.
  • Ruth Bonneville Winnipeg Free Press January 18, 2011 Local Standup -

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should the federal government be able to censor how Ottawa is portrayed in the CMHR?

View Results

Ads by Google