August 25, 2014
Over a week ago, you sent me a request to comment on the new Transparency Act. It is now Canadian law for all Chiefs and Councils in Canada to make their salaries public. I didn't get back to you for an on air Television comment but it is clear to me that the Chiefs and their political organizations are under attack. The Press in Canada has jumped on a very small minority of Chiefs in Canada who are paid beyond the norm. The vast majority of Chiefs in Canada have very low salaries and no pensions.
In Manitoba, our Organizations like the Southern Chiefs Organization, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, and MKO have had huge cutbacks in funding. AMC was cut 85% of their funding, SCO lost over 40% of our funding. The trend is clear, First Nations organizations are under attack. The very aggressive Chiefs in Manitoba are being punished. The cuts in federal funding are most severe in Manitoba. I ran for Grand Chief of SCO and was elected on of this year. The reason I ran for the position was that I saw an opportunity to get SCO out of dependence on Government funding. The Grand Chief position at SCO became available only because the former Grand Chief Murray Clearsky was ousted by the Chiefs.
Murray Clearsky was accused on mismanaging SCO finances. A federal forensic audit was completed. We at SCO recieved a copy of the findings and the results of that forensic Audit has been leaked to the media. At no time has Murray Clearsky and others in SCO been allowed to tell their side of the story, nor until a few days ago even been allowed to see what they are accused of. Today at 1 p.m., former Grand Chief Murray Clearsky and I will hold a Press Conference in the SCO Boardroom to allow the press an opportunity to question Murray Clearsky on the results of the Forensic Audit. The Forensic Audit found that over $260,000 may have been misspent and that SCO is liable to repay the Federal Government for those dollars.
The Executive Chiefs of SCO gave me permission to contact Clearsky and others to get their response to the findings of the Forensic Audit. As far as I can determine, no one at SCO leaked the Forensic Audit to the media. We had a meeting with the Executive Chiefs of SCO and provided them with the Forensic Audit findings and right after that the media somehow got copies of the Audit. It is the position of my office that we cooperated fully with the Auditors and gave them access to all computers, phone records and our finance staff for over three weeks while the investigation was going on. The Chiefs have been clear, there will be no cover up and that all funding will be accounted for. If criminal actions did take place, it will be the responsibility of the Chiefs to forward that to the RCMP.
I invite you and the press to SCO Boardroom at 1 p.m today to meet Murray Clearsky and myself. We will make a statement and answer questions.
Grand Chief Terrance Nelson