OTTAWA has accused a northern Indian band of misappropriating $4.6 million intended for Hydro construction job training.
In a statement of claim, Ottawa says it gave Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation (also known as Nelson House First Nation) $8.4 million between 2006 and 2008 for the construction of an aboriginal training and educational facility where band members were trained to work on the Wuskwatim dam construction project.
Ottawa alleges Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation needed only $3.8 million for the project and spent the remaining $4.6 million on non-job training expenses, including paying the band's operating line of credit, paying a band-owned business, purchasing guaranteed investment certificates and deposits to its general account.
The federal government is seeking damages of $4.6 million plus interest, an accounting of all funds advanced for the job-training project, unspecified other damages and legal costs.
The allegations have not been proven in court. A statement of defence has not been filed.
In addition to Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation, also named as defendants are Cochrane Group Inc., a Calgary-based property developer, and Genivar Inc., a Montreal-based construction consulting firm, which served as project managers for the project.
Officials from NCN did not return calls from the Free Press. Officials from the Cochrane Group and Genivar could not be reached for comment.
NCN is located at Nelson House, about 80 kilometres west of Thompson. It has 4,500 members living in the community and in South Indian Lake, Leaf Rapids, Thompson, Brandon and Winnipeg.
The $1.4-billion Wuskwatim generating station, built on traditional land of NCN, officially opened Thursday. It is a joint venture between NCN and Manitoba Hydro.
Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation opened the 27,000 square-foot Atoskiwin Training and Employment Centre in 2006. On the band's website, the ATEC is described as a "fully accredited, non-profit, community-based, post-secondary training facility... the first of its kind to be built on a Mantioba First Nation reserve."
The website says ATEC has trained "several hundred" band members for the Wuskwatim construction project.
The facility's long-term goal is "to offer a wide range of post-secondary education opportunities to fill other skill needs for the First Nation and others in Northern Manitoba."