Onion Lake Cree Nation member Charmaine Stick is trying to give a Saskatchewan judge a helping hand in ordering her band council to hand over its financial information.
On Thursday, Stick, along with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation delivered a petition with 30,000 signatures to force the Trudeau Liberals to enforce the First Nations Financial Transparency Act (FNFTA).
“I believe that in all structures of government there needs to be accountability and transparency, otherwise you don’t have a foot to stand on,” Stick told APTN News during a media scrum Thursday.
On July 24, a Saskatchewan judge ordered the financial statements of Onion Lake Cree Nation to be publicly posted online by the end of this month.
If the first nation band does not comply, it will face a $10,000 fine.
“I’m glad the judge sees the importance of accountability and transparency,” said Stick.
For years, Stick has been urging her community to disclose financial statements and salaries.
In 2014, she went on a 13 day hunger strike after her community’s leadership refused to show her the band’s finances.
Then in 2016, she teamed up with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF).
“It’s really a travesty,” said Aaron Wudrick, director of the CTF. “It should not be up to brave people like Charmaine to do this, the government should be enforcing their own law.”
The First Nations financial transparency act was passed into law under Stephen Harper’s Conservative government in 2014.
The piece of legislation also known as Bill C-27, requires First Nation bands to upload financial documents publicly.
While the Onion Lake Cree Nation has published some of its finance from 2014 to 2016, there are still gaps.
The community has until the end of August to upload remaining years.
Now Stick and the CTF are trying to force the federal government to act.
“There’s no point in having a law requiring First Nation bands to post their expenses, if they’re not going to follow it,” said Aaron Wudrick.
Stick said she’s been through a lot and people have been upset with her since launching the case against Onion Lake. Especially when former chief Wallace Fox told her she wouldn’t get anywhere with her demands during her hunger strike and discouraged her from pursing any action against the band.
“Just the words I remember from him at the time was ‘go ahead, sit there and starve you’ll never get anywhere,’ today I just find it funny and look at where I’m at today,” Stick said.
Onion Lake has lost twice in court trying to dismiss Stick’s demands.