First Nations Activist Launches Court Application Demanding Transparency
- Taxpayers Federation co-applicants in second citizen-initiated First Nations Financial Transparency Act application
REGINA, SK: First Nations activist Harrison Thunderchild has launched a court application demanding transparency from Thunderchild First Nation.
“Accountability and transparency are principles of leadership for our people that were passed down to me from my father and grandfather,” said Harrison Thunderchild, a member of the Thunderchild First Nation, and an Elder whose grandfather, Chief Thunderchild, was Chief when Thunderchild adhered to Treaty 6. “When our leaders don’t tell grassroots band members what’s happening with the community’s money, they’re turning their backs on our heritage.”
Lawyers filed a court application on behalf of Mr. Thunderchild demanding that Thunderchild First Nation disclose chief and council compensation as well as basic financial documents as required by the First Nations Financial Transparency Act (FNFTA). The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) is a co-applicant and CTF donors have chipped in to cover the legal expenses.
Since the adoption of the First Nations Financial Transparency Act in 2013, Thunderchild First Nation leaders have only partially complied with the legislation twice and have gone to court to block the legally required disclosures.
The vast majority of First Nations communities have complied with the First Nations Financial Transparency Act.
This is the second such court application. Last year, Charmaine Stick, a member of Onion Lake Cree Nation, launched and won a similar application. Onion Lake’s leaders are appealing the decision, but Ms Stick and the CTF are confident the legal victory will be upheld. Mr. Thunderchild is building on that victory.
“What are the leaders at Thunderchild First Nation hiding?” asks Mr. Thunderchild. “The current leaders are dragging my family’s name through the mud. We need openness and accountability and that means complying with The First Nations Financial Transparency Act.”
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett announced the federal government would no longer enforce the First Nations Financial Transparency Act on Dec. 18, 2015.
“All Canadians have the right to know what their leaders are doing with their money and that includes Harrison Thunderchild,” said Todd MacKay, Prairie Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. “We’re humbled to stand with Harrison as he takes a stand for the principles of transparency he inherited from his historic forbearers.”