Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence has filed an injunction against the Aboriginal Affairs decision to put her community’s finances on third party management despite a promise that it would be lifted once the housing crisis is over.
Spence said the paperwork was signed immediately following her 90-minute meeting with Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Minister John Duncan on Dec. 15 in Thunder Bay after Duncan “insisted that the third party has to be involved in this crisis.”
“We insist that we have a good team in place in the community plus we have a good relationship with the Thunder Bay (Aboriginal Affairs) staff…but he still insists on a third party,” Spence said. “Third party (management) is not an option.” She said that third party management is proven to do more harm than good and is “very impunitive, counterproductive and unreasonable.”
Duncan spoke to the media first after the meeting and said he will lift the third party management once the crisis is over. He said they plan to provide homes for 25 families – 22 in modular homes purchased and three in renovated houses. He also said they plan to audit the band’s finances by the end of the fiscal year in March 2012.
“Once those people are housed and we think that we’re on the right track in terms of housing needs, then I think we can safely remove the third party management,” he said. “We’re looking at more or less the spring.”
When Spence was asked if she believed Duncan’s promise, she replied “no.”
“I’ve been informed by other chiefs there’s never a short-term third party (manager).” Spence said the third party manager has yet to step into the community and it is her council that is making the arrangements to bring the 22 modular homes to the community. “(Duncan) keeps saying that the third party is overseeing the crisis,” Spence said. “He’s not. It’s the people in my community who are working hard to keep things moving, documenting everything and making the phone calls. He’s not even in the community, so how can he manage the crisis?”
Spence said the community is still willing to take an audit on their past funds received, but expressed frustration on the government’s focus on the band’s finance management. “They’re throwing numbers at us, and not focusing on the declared emergency, which is what this is about, and the people of Canada need to understand that.”
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