Attawapiskat thirdparty manager sitting on funds for new houses NDP MP Angus

first_imgAPTN National NewsOTTAWA–The outside consultant hired by the federal Aboriginal Affairs department to manage Attawapiskat’s finances “is sitting on” funds the community needs to prepare site work for new modular homes awaiting transport to the community, according to NDP MP Charlie Angus.Angus said officials from diamond company De Beers, which operates a diamond mine near the community, are ready to prepare the site for the 22 modular homes the department purchased in response to the housing crisis in the community. The homes, built in New Brunswick, are current awaiting shipment in Moosonee, Ont.Angus said in question period Wednesday that the third-party manager has not only “cut off” funds preventing site work for the homes, but also for Attawapiskat’s education system.“Canadians expect a just resolution to the Attawapiskat crisis, but the minister prefers to punish the community,” said Angus, MP for Timmins-James Bay. “It has been two months since he has cut off all the funding to the education system and to students. He has cut off the funding that is needed to actually prepare the site so the modular homes can be brought in.”Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan said the funds haven’t been released because the band leadership has refused to give the third-party manager requested information.“We have a manager in place and he wants to work with the First Nations leadership in the community,” said Duncan. “He has asked for and not received the information he needs in order to pay the bills that this member from Timmins is asking for.”Angus accused Duncan of treating the community “like a hostage population” while paying a consultant, who is based in Winnipeg “$50,000” while the technical team from De Beers “does not have a dime” to lay the ground work for the new homes.Duncan called Angus’ claims a “fabrication,” but added he could not comment on the third-party manger because the issue is before the courts.Attawapiskat has gone to Federal Court seeking to overturn the department’s decision to impose the third-party manager. A hearing was held in Toronto Tuesday and a decision is expected soon.The federal government imposed the third-party manager last November as the scandal over the dire and life-threatening housing conditions on the reserve gripped the Canadian public.Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Duncan both blamed the band leadership for creating the housing crisis by mishandling money.Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence has said her administration was working to rectify the band’s finances and, as proof of their commitment to transparency, posted all their financial data online.In a speech opening the Crown-First Nations Gathering last Tuesday, Harper said a “new day” had dawned on the relationship between First Nations and Canada.last_img

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