In the last few years there has been much talk in the media about the seemingly “underfunded” Attawapiskat First Nations reserve. The Attawapiskat counsel has been pushing for more funding in order to provide for its people the basic necessities. The question to be asked is not how much more money must been sent to Attawapiskat, but rather where has the previously sent money been used? Has this money being allocated where it is needed most? Or is it being spent carelessly by the Attawapiskat counsel?
To begin, from the years 2006-2011 roughly $170 million has come into Attawapiskat; 35% from their own revenue, 12.9% from provincial funding, and 52.1% from federal funding. These are certainly staggering figures for a town of only about 1,800 residents.(Hodnet, National Post, 2011) So how can this community be pulling in such large amounts of money, but still not be able to supply adequate housing, running water, and electricity? The answer is simple, yet unexpected.
The people of Attawapiskat are, without a doubt suffering dearly. Not because of lack of funding, but due to the counsel’s fiscal mismanagement headed by Chief Theresa Spence. Being a First Nations reserve, all revenues coming into the reserve are managed by Chief Theresa Spence and her counsel of 18 members. This allows for the misallocation of funds to be hidden easily by those in charge. This could explain why close to $300,000 is brought in annually between Chief Theresa Spence and her boyfriend,
who was appointed as financial manager by Spence when he has no education in the field. (Levant, Sun News, 2013)While Theresa Spence and her boyfriend collectively make more than the Prime Minister of Canada, the rest of the Attawapiskat population struggles to provide a safe and hospitable environment for their families. Furthermore, Deloitte conducted an audit of Attawapiskat financial statements early 2013. Deloitte examined 505 transactions to determine whether or not the reserve’s spending adhered to federal funding agreements. Roughly 81% of these transactions lacked proper supporting documents, as well as 60% having no reason for the transactions at all. The audit also turned up several other instances in which the reserve did not adhere to its agreement with the CMHC (Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation). Precisely not opening up another account for reserve funds that were used to repair/replace dilapidated houses, and continuously underfunding this area.
Conclusively, Chief Teresa Spence as well as the Members of the Attawapiskat Band have been repeatedly mismanaging reserve funds, and thus not prioritizing the resolution of the housing crisis as she says she is. As of now, the people of Attawapiskat still live in substandard conditions. They struggle to provide adequate housing, appliances, electricity, and running water for their families due to the actions of Chief Theresa Spence.
Hodnet, Brett. “The real math behind Attawapiskat’s $90 million.” National Post. N.p., 4 Dec. 2011. Web. 6 Apr. 2015. <http://news.nationalpost.com/full-comment/brett-hodnett-the-real-math-behind-attawapiskats-90-million>.
“The scandals of Chief Theresa Spence and.” Sun News. Sun News Network. SNN, 3 Jan. 2013. Web. 6 Apr. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDa8YDb3Ag4>.
Galloway, Gloria. “Attawapiskat audit raises questions about millions in spending.” The Globe and Mail. G&M, 7 Jan. 2013. Web. 6 Apr. 2015. <http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/attawapiskat-audit-raises-questions-about-millions-in-spending/article6995751/>.