Grandmothers occupy Hollow Water band office
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/03/2010 (4589 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
About 40 grandmothers have occupied the Hollow Water First Nation’s band office to protest what they say are corrupt financial practices.
Some of the kookums — Ojibway for ‘grandmother’ — say they are meeting Saturday with auditors from Indian Affairs who may consider looking into the band’s finances.
Shavon Sinclair, one of the organizers of the protest, said the women have been trying for months to get information about the band’s operations.
"The chief and council don’t want to give us information about band affairs," she said.
The kookums are especially concerned about how band finances are mixing with business ventures on the reserve.
The sit-in started first thing Thursday morning with the lighting of a sacred fire and the construction of a teepee outside the band office. Most sacred fires last four days and that’s how long the band office — including the child welfare office and the education authority — could be closed.
Band Coun. Denelle Bushie, who was monitoring the protest from inside the band office, said the kookums have significant support for their demands for more accountability.
Bushie said band members have a right to know how Hollow Water’s finances are being managed, but he said his main concern is making sure the protest doesn’t divide Hollow Water.
"Hopefully this will open a dialogue," said Bushie.
INAC said Thursday it is sending staff from its audit and evaluation division to Manitoba to follow up on a number of files. But Ottawa wouldn’t confirm who exactly the auditors are meeting with.
Chief Larry Barker couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday.
Hollow Water is a community of 1,083 about 190 kilometres north of Winnipeg on the east side of Lake Winnipeg.
Re-vote in Skownan?
Ottawa is considering ordering a new band election on the Skownan reserve after band members raised concerns over corruption.
The vote last December returned Chief Harvey Nepinak to office but only by a very slim margin. Two band councillors were also re-elected.
Band members have filed an appeal and affidavits with INAC, alleging campaign improprieties.
The candidates have until the end of the week to file their responses with INAC, which will then decide whether to dismiss the appeal or launch its own investigation, which could lead to a new vote.