Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Posted: 04/24/2013 7:50 PM | Comments: 0
OTTAWA — The chief and council of God’s Lake First Nation have accused the federal government of forcing it to sign its 2013 band contribution agreements "under duress."
God’s Lake passed a band council resolution April 8 saying it only signed its contribution agreements this year to avoid having Ottawa hold back funding for health care, education or other services, but that it did so "under duress."
All First Nations must sign contribution agreements with Ottawa each year that outline how much funding will flow and certain conditions. This year, God’s Lake received the documents Feb. 27 and were told they had to sign them and return them to Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada by March 5.
Chief Gilbert Andrews wrote to AANDC saying he had signed the documents "conditionally" but still wanted to discuss the agreement with AANDC and the band’s co-manager. AANDC wrote back to say that was unacceptable and demanded Andrews "retract" his letter saying he had signed it conditionally.
The band did that on March 5. A month later, after reviewing the details of the contribution agreements, the chief and council passed a three-page band council resolution slamming the whole process.
The resolution criticizes the agreements for requiring First Nations to agree with all existing legislation and government publications as well as any amendments or changes that might be made to them in the future. That includes requiring the band to agree to more than 50 policies, manuals and guidelines which could be "amended from time to time."
The day before that resolution passed, AANDC released a statement saying it was not true that the new contribution agreements will keep First Nations from challenging government legislation in the courts.
"AANDC is committed to streamlining funding arrangements and reducing unneeded reporting by recipients, while maintaining its ability to account to Parliament and Canadians for the more than seven billion dollars with which we are entrusted annually," the statement read.
God’s Lake is the first Manitoba First Nation to speak publicly about this new requirement in contribution agreements, which many First Nations see as the government trying to use funding for basic services as a way to keep First Nations from criticizing federal legislation they don’t like.
Bands in Alberta, B.C. and the Atlantic region have all come out to criticize the process and some have threatened to take their complaints to the United Nations if Ottawa doesn’t tone down the language.
Sources tell the Free Press both Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Derek Nepinak and God’s Lake Chief Gilbert Andrews feel the federal government bullied the band into signing the contribution agreements without providing enough time to review them.
Nepinak and Andrews will be holding a press conference or releasing a joint statement today.
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.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
Manitoba starts uh-0 and 2
'The dialogue has started' on missing women
Republicans' fast-shifting presidential horserace
Portrait of Queen will be home again soon
Nemtsov a possible 'sacrificial victim,' investigators say
Brier in Calgary has a freshmen feel
We failed on ER fixes, WRHA says
Crowdfunding nets $20,000 for woman in hijab dispute
New plane tracking to be tested after Malaysia jet mystery
Hellebuyck, IceCaps blank Sharks 2-0
Blackhawks acquire Antoine Vermette from Coyotes
Ice cream parlour? Bike shop? Submit your ideas for Esplanade Riel
Next stop? Broadway... in Crystal City
Heat say Bosh has been released from hospital
B.C. polygamous leader seeks to quash charge
Jagr makes Florida debut in Panthers' win over Sabres
Vince Li secures increased freedoms
Your weekend weather
Milder, but still cold
Madonna's comedy plans
Jets' Wheeler ready to go back to work against Kings
Police seek help in finding 15-year-old girl
No more overnight parking ban on snow routes
Kingsbury wins sixth straight World Cup event
Fighting the evil within: The case for and against the Anti-Terrorism Act
Carruthers? Win? Yeah, right
First 2015 flood forecast a mixed bag
Hundreds attend funeral for Elijah Marsh
Murder mystery slays new series competition
Province forecasting year-end deficit to grow by $37M to $394M
Oh, brother: The MacIvers will do almost anything on their crazy car commercials
Commission tackles issue of service dogs
Free Press, Brandon Sun photographers nominated for national awards
Flood risk normal or above normal in western Manitoba
Key of Bart - A Criminal Mind
Troubled hockey star fought his demons in the alley, but he beats them onstage
Vet reviews now only every three years
Leonard Nimoy, famous as Mr. Spock on 'Star Trek,' dies
Quebec hijab decision sparks widespread criticism
Unregistered massage therapist to give Manitoba courses, regulator says