Jacqueline Daniels from the Long Plains First Nation is worried about keeping her job.
Daniels has managed her community’s post-secondary program since 2015; her predecessor was elected to council.
It wasn’t long before she noticed irregularities in the band’s finances.
“I was starting to see questionable transactions, questionable paperwork,” she says, explaining it took her more than a year to figure out the program.
“As I was finding things that…were questionable, as I was finding files, I was starting to report them to the chief and council.”
In late 2016 the council commissioned an audit, Chief Dennis Meeches confirmed.
Meeches also discussed the issue during an interview on a local community radio station.
“There was a question that was posed about the post secondary investigation. So I basically shared info on what was transpiring at the time,” he said.
That audit, completed in September 2018, confirmed a lot of money was not accounted for.
“We sign reports every year and it’s disclosed in that report of 1.2 million,” Meeches told APTN News.
At one of Long Plains’ annual open community meetings earlier this month, Daniels spoke out about the audit.
Council responded by passing a motion to suspend her from her job.
Meeches was the only one to vote against that motion.
“I feel I am punished for speaking out,” Daniels said. “I don’t have any personal motivation to have brought this stuff forward. I just brought it forward because it’s the right thing to do.”
Meeches called Daniels’ absence an administrative leave, not a suspension.
Daniels has no access to her office and cannot go to work.
“I really feel like I’m backed up in a corner that I have no one to turn to within the nation. However, there is one individual that’s been a constant support for me and that’s my chief,” she said.
“Jackie’s the program manager and you know she’s managing a program that faltered that had some fairly significant deficits, and did the best to manage it,” Meeches said.
“I for one would have a really difficult time of imposing any sanction against her.”
Meeches said he would like to see the band implement a whistle blower policy to protect individuals who speak out about concerns with internal matters.