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Court upholds decision for Onion Lake Cree Nation to release financial statements

Onion Lake Cree Nation are once again being asked to release their financial statements.

On March 26, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal upheld a ruling it initially made in June 2017 for the Cree Nation to publish their financial documents. Member of Onion Lake Cree Nation Charmaine Stick has been fighting this battle for the past four years and says that this decision will help other First Nations communities.

“This court ruling can not only be applied to Onion Lake Cree nation, but can also be used as a door opener for many first nations out there who are all still fighting for transparency and accountability within their own leadership.”

Prairie Director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation Todd MacKay says that Charmaine has the right to this information as a member of the Cree Nation and that the band has a responsibility to publish this information.

“Everybody and every community has every right to know what their leaders are doing with every dollar of public funds. That’s all that’s being asked for in this case.”

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The band is required to publish two things under the First Nations Financial Transparency Act. First, is the audited financial statements, which are standard annual statements showing where the money has been going, as well as the salaries of the chief and council.

Stick says that she doesn’t know what exactly will be revealed in the financial statements, but that there has to be a reason why her leadership has been fighting against this case for so long.

“There will be proof of mismanagement of money, bad investments made and also maybe they’ll be some people who will be getting charged for fraud or what not.”

MacKay says that the band could appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada, but he thinks that they won’t and instead will publish their financial records.

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