Alberta First Nations chief facing the heat for settling forced Trudeau deal
Band members from Whitefish Lake First Nation #459 are demanding answers from their leadership. A lack of consultation has damaged the relationship between the members and leaders of Whitefish Lake #459, a problem that often creates difficulty in Crown—indigenous relations as well.
Members of Whitefish Lake #459 received a settlement negotiated by band leaders and the Government of Canada on February 2nd, 2017. The agreement accounted for an agricultural benefits claim, arranged under Treaty 8 as ‘Cows and Plows.’ The Nation is located on Treaty 8 land.
Once trapping, hunting and fishing were no longer viable sources of income, band members would receive a “modest and sufficient livelihood” from agricultural dues, although some are questioning whether “sufficient” is a fair description.
The deal was finalized on October 12, 2017. Totalling a one-time sum of $116,858,095, approximately $10,436,000 was to be distributed among the nearly 3,000 band members on November 15, 2017.
At a band meeting on May 17th, then-Chief Jesse Grey said, “we always have to look at the needs… I know I want lots of money too, but I got to sacrifice. I got to sacrifice for the kids. That is my hope that everyone thinks like that.”
After legal and ratification costs, alongside dues owed to creditors, etc., the remaining $102,535,226 was to be placed into the Agricultural Benefits Settlement Trust for the purpose of building a future for band members and their families.
Unfortunately, the leadership did not consult with band members at any point during or immediately following the negotiations with the government. Any meaningful dialogue that took place was behind closed doors.
For many, it was not until mid-May that members found out how much would be granted to each member and other pertinent details. For example, Whitefish Lake First Nation member, Priscella Greyeyes received her settlement documentation on May 14th, 2017.
TPM interviews WLFN member
The Post Millennial interviewed Whitefish Lake Band Member Priscella Greyeyes on this ongoing matter, and it was revealed that a trail of lies and deceit laid at the feet of the questionable settlement.
Each member from the band received a lump sum of only $4000. The rest remained in the band’s trust fund.
For many, this was mostly underwhelming. For some, they have yet to receive a cent from band leadership.
For others, insults were thrown and scare tactics employed by Indian Agent and fellow band member Gary Laboucan, as well as the then-Chief Jesse Grey, both hurling insults at those merely asking for clarity and greater accountability in the consultation process.
“You’ll be broke within three to four months, some of you, not all of you. We can give you $4000. It’ll be the same, no matter how much we give you,” Chief Grey says.
“Many were not okay with the settlement of $4000,” says Priscella, however, Gary went on to say, “Canada wanted it done.”
If band members were to say no, then all of this would go back into renegotiation for an additional ten years.
Simply put, the Trudeau Government did not uphold its agreement with Whitefish Lake #459 in 2017, but, perhaps, something far more nefarious was at play.
According to WLFN Member Priscella Greyeyes, the 200-page settlement document contained an offer from the Government of a $42,000 settlement for each band member.
So, what gives? Why employ scare tactics?
On May 16th, 2017 Whitefish First Nation held a meeting in Edmonton, and according to Priscella, the leadership was saying much.
“This was the package, this what we are doing with the money. We got $4000. It was a done deal,” says Priscella. However, she feels they were not given a fair deal.
In the end, the settlement was voted in favour on June 14th and 15th, despite reservations.
New leadership elected in 2018
In April 2018, Whitefish Lake #459 had their elections with newly elected Chief Albert Thunder winning over the incumbent, campaigning on a platform based firmly on his religious beliefs.
According to Priscella Greyeyes, Chief Thunder was going to look into the matters about the Agriculture Benefits Settlement. He was elected as chief in 2018.
Members in Whitefish were immediately proactive to find out what the new chief approach surrounding the cows and plows settlement.
According to expert advice from a tax specialist and a chartered accountant, the settlement funds were not taxable under the Income Tax Act. As a PCD, any claims made remained valid up until three years after it was issued, nor did wield any effect on Social Assistance nor Old Age Security.
But in reality however, those who were still waiting for their share were cut off in November 2018, and those who received the $4000 were taxed for it. Those who received it also had their social assistance cut until they spent the $4000, which mostly went towards paying utility bills.
“I’m trying to fight for these people,” says Priscella, who remained concerned about Chief Thunder, who comes from a predominantly NDP family.
February 2019 members question Chief Thunder
The Post Millennial obtained a correspondence of emails from Priscella and Chief Thunder. While Priscella brought up concerns, the chief did not provide in-depth responses, using deflection as shown below.
Friday, February 1, 2019
Dear Chief and council, Band Manager, and membership of WFLFN #459
I am a member of WFLFN #459, I am expressing my concern with the cow and Plough money that Canada had provided as a settlement to WFLFN #459 of the amount of $ 116,858,095.00.
We have not yet got a signed Declaration of trust, with that we have not been informed of who the trust is to the Heritage saving account, Off reserve members account, education account and the infrastructure and housing account. As band members we have a right to ask and receive all this information. The band has not started the process of the off-reserve committee, when is that going to start?
I would like also to get a copy of the membership code, as well as what the criteria for housing applications .
I had also have asked for the minutes of the Band membership meeting and the budget meetings. Also, I had asked the membership clerk for a copy of the membership list and was told that I must ask the Chief and council for that information. And still have not got a response.
Wednesday, February 6, 2019, at 4:45 PM,
I’m still waiting for a response.
Today is February 6th, 2019
Friday, February 8th, 2019, at 10:16,
The off reserve planning has started.
The trustee is RBC for all three accounts.
All accounts are locked in for 7 years starting 2018. (No funds from these accounts can be used)
As for membership list. I’m sure you can go into the office and look at the list at anytime. Not sure why you’d need a list? (There were complaints of the list being posted on Facebook during the voting of the cows and ploughs.. so I’m going to say; I’d rather not give this document out, but you can come to the office at anytime, it’s your band office. No information will be withheld; however in saying that, we cannot allow any documents to leave the band office. Just so we avoid lawsuits to you and the band from individuals that don’t want their information to be public..
In saying this; I can ask the members if they want their information as membership to be shared?
I will answer any question personally as well. I can meet you and Alvis at a restaurant to answer your questions and concerns anytime I’m in the city. As I’ve done for others with questions.
Tuesday, February 12, 2019, at 6:14 PM,
I still never got any copies of any membership or budget meeting minutes I have requested as well as the signed declaration of trust.
What kind of plans do you have so far for the off reserve ?
What money was used to distribute the PCD for the cow and plough in November of 2017? Since the money wasn’t given to the band till January of 2108.
Was it a bank loan? If so, what was the interest rate and was it from the same bank RBC that are trust holders?
We spoke to INAC and they said we have rights to see all this information, including the membership list.
While I’m on the membership topic, I would like a copy of the membership code.
Ill be looking forward to hearing from you.
Tuesday, February 12th, 2019 at 19:46,
Like I said before: you can come to the band office, your band office to look at these documents.
And INAC does not run our nation. They provide block funding which is their fiduciary obligation to each and every one of the 634 First Nations in this country.
There was no bank loan. The funds were in place by October I believe.
But yes: come see all the documents that you need to see.
I’ll be calling a membership meeting in the next couple of weeks. It’ll be posted.
As for off reserve committee: the first committee members will be appointed by chief and council for one year. Then after that, the off reserve members can vote for their reps.
(We did this for elders, and it’s seems to be working)
I’m hearing quite a bit of bad mouthing on Facebook.. just a fair warning: I won’t respond to any of your emails if this continues. I’m not putting a gag order; just want the same respect I’m giving you.. I’ve never done anything wrong to you or Alvis, but it seems like I’ve offended you folks. If I have, forgive me.
All I want is to lead the nation to the next level. Not the next level lower. But the next level higher. We have worked hard in the passed 9 months, and it looks very promising for all members. We just have to wait.
Lawsuits should never be the answer.. and it never will be. But respecting, talking and coming up with solutions to make our lives better is always my priority. I hope it’s yours as well.
Demanding paperwork to be sent to you via email won’t happen. Just letting you know. But if you want: come read them in the band office.
In a liberty; there are certain books that can never leave the building. Same with some documents in the band office.
It’s like asking you to provide a bank statement for all the times the band helped you.. you’d say it’s none of anybody’s business.. to which it is.. but the 7 year statute of limitations do apply to all.
You can even ask to see how much each member has on his or her AR. And according to INAC. We can show those as well. Because it was our money being used..
But anyways. I hope to see you soon. Appreciate you folks.
Wednesday, February 13th, 2019, at 4:59 PM,
I don’t see why we cant get a copy the Signed Deceleration of trust . I know for a fact that the members of Tallcree First Nation got theirs mailed to them, along with a portfolio of a break down from their trust holders and Lawyers.
As for bad mouthing , I have never bad mouthed you on Facebook. All i do is state facts that is all and i back it up with proof and nothing personal towards you or the council.
Agriculture Benefits Settlement has been an on going issue under Treaty 8
Whitefish Lake First Nation is not the only band under Treaty 8 having troubling getting information about the Agriculture Benefits Agreement, Renea Higga Brown and fellow Tall Cree First Nation members are currently engaged in lengthy litigation.
It proves that the Trudeau Government is not helping the first members on the matters of being heard and enforcing responsible consultations.
As the government has a duty to consult with First Nations, First Nations ought to have a duty to consult with their members.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.
A raccoon was spotted on a city bus in London, Ontario last night around 8 pm. One passenger was able to snap a picture of the along route 19 in the Masonville area, tweeting.
The LTC replied to the tweet saying,
No one quite knows how the little guy managed to board the bus and the LTC has yet to comment.
Word on the street is after failing to present a valid ticket he was asked to leave, begrudgingly he waddled off muttering something about the LTC.
Multiple charges were laid against Andrij Olesiuk after he claimed to have handed over $4,100 to a door-to-door canvasser to give to the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team, according to the Saskatoon StarPhoenix.
Olesiuk claimed that he did not know the name of the woman he gave the money to. He also said that the receipt she gave him was burned in a house fire.
Over a year ago, Olesiuk had multiple charges laid against him involved with using the Humboldt Broncos’ fundraiser for his own benefit.
According to evidence and documents from the case, close to $3,700 was deposited into 33-year-old Olesiuk’s account. Prosecutor Darren Howarth told the court that the money was never sent to the Saskatchewan hockey team. The money was raised using the #PrayForHumboldt GoFundMe page.
The trial took place at the Saskatoon provincial court on Wednesday. When Olesiuk testified he said, “My intention was to raise funds for the families affected by the tragedy.”
According to the Olesiuk, he gave away the money on April 24, 2018. He claimed in court that the money totaled $4,100.
Olesiuk claimed that he gave away the money in $100 bills and that his family donated about $700 to the cause themselves.
He was charged and arrested in November 2018.
Olesiuk claimed that he sent the money with the canvasser because it would be easier than traveling to Humboldt. He also said that she seemed to be legitimate.
The GoFundMe page specified that Olesiuk was supposed to give the money directly to the team. He was unsure where the money he handed over to the woman had ended up.
His prosecutor said, “You gave it to someone you didn’t know… You didn’t even know if she was representing the Humboldt Broncos hockey team.”
Olesiuk responded, “I don’t know for sure.”
He also said that the house fire took place three months after the incident destroying his receipt which was delivered to him a couple of days after handing over the money.
According to the police, there were 35 people who contributed to the GoFundMe page before it was closed a few weeks after the accident.
Olesiuk was charges included:
- Fraud over $5,000
- Fraud under $5,000
- Possession of property obtained by crime over $5,000
- Possession of property obtained by crime under $5,000
- Laundering proceeds of crime
According to RCMP Cpl. Craig Hall, most of the money was spent at Canadian Tire, convenience stores, and fast food restaurants.
Closing arguments are taking place Thursday morning.
A former government employee told HuffPost Canada she was punished for giving comment to the news outlet on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s use of blackface when it became an international story during the 2019 federal election.
39-year-old Manjot Bains told HuffPo she was reprimanded and commanded to not speak about racism publicly after she spoke to a HuffPo reporter in a September story where she wasn’t identified as a federal employee. Bains faced a lot of backlash at work where she was a senior program adviser, which led to her quitting her job at the Multiculturalism and Anti-Racism Initiatives program that’s part of the Department of Canadian Heritage.
“The prime minister is the one who performed blackface, not me. But somehow I faced repercussions for his actions,” Bains said to HuffPost.
Bains was hired last May and was cleared by her new employer to still continue contributing to her media website, Jugni Style, that covers South Asian culture, so she thought it wouldn’t be a problem to comment on Trudeau’s history of blackface.
Bains told HuffPo she passed along the story to her manager when it was published and was swiftly told she shouldn’t have spoken to the media and had lost her manager’s trust.
Bains then had a meeting with her superiors and was told that public servants aren’t allowed to speak critically of Trudeau publicly, and would have to do “loyalty training” and redo ethics training.
Bains cited her union actually promotes political activity and her contract stated, “the right to engage in political activities while maintaining the principles of political impartiality in the public service.”
Public servants are expected to show a “duty of loyalty” to the Canadian government.
In a much more clear cut case of political activism, a federal public servant was put on leave from his job after releasing an anti-Harper folk song during the 2015 election.
Bains also wrote her own personal account of the ordeal she faced after speaking about her thoughts on Trudeau’s blackface incidents publicly, published by HuffPo as well on Thursday.
The leader of the Conservative party of Canada has resigned after a disappointing election loss where he took the popular vote but lost the path to victory, allowing another Trudeau government.
Andrew Scheer will be resigning from the Conservative leadership role after intense internal party division largely made his position impossible, according to sources that have spoken to the Globe and Mail.
According to Global News, the resignation also came after it was revealed that party funds were used to send Andrew Scheer’s children to private school.
Mr. Scheer announced the decision at a special caucus meeting on Thursday morning.
The decision comes after former Conservative cabinet minister John Baird published his autopsy of the election which was highly critical.
According to Sun Journalist Brian Lilley, the decision will become public once a new leader is selected by the party.
With Scheer out, many have begun to wonder who will be the interim leader and who will run in the following leadership race.
With interim leaders normally staying out of leadership races, multiple high ranking officials will have to weigh their options and decide if they would rather keep the party united, or choose to run as Andrew’s potential replacement. Some pundits believe Conservative insiders such as Erin O’Toole or Peter Mackay could be gunning for that position, due to their brand power and instances which have occurred since the election of Trudeau.
For example, Peter Mackay has harshly criticized the party’s campaign, comparing it to missing on an open net, while O’Toole has voiced his disappointment with results in Ontario, especially with the loss of key figures such as Lisa Raitt.
This is a breaking news story and will be updated.