The third-party manager sent to handle Attawapiskat First Nation finances during its housing crisis will be withdrawn later this month.
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) announced that it would be removing the third-party manager by April 19, more than four months after he was put in place without the consent or consultation of the First Nation.
Jacques Marion, a partner with BDO Canada LLP in Winnipeg, was appointed as the third party manager in late-November, a month after Attawapiskat declared a state of emergency due to a housing shortage.
With the installation of 22 modular homes and renovation work on three existing homes that will allow for the 25 affected families to move in by the end of this month, AANDC Minister John Duncan lauded Marion for completing his appointed task.
“The efforts to achieve this milestone have been significant, and I would like to thank (Marion) for his hard and diligent work,” Duncan said.
AANDC’s announcement was made the day after it was reported that Attawapiskat post-secondary students had not received their monthly living allowance because of holdups with the third party manager. The students have since received their payments.
In a media release, Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence welcomed the end of the third-party manager.
Spence said Marion’s appointment has “caused repeated disruptions and hardships to the orderly functioning of basic community services.”
In addition to the delayed student payments, Spence said that Marion left vendors and suppliers’ invoices unpaid, including the vendor supplying of food for the elementary school’s breakfast program; band support funding was not paid after Dec. 1, 2011, forcing the community to divert resources from other program areas in order to continue to operate; and Marion refused to authorize the making of loan payments, placing the First Nation on the brink of defaulting on a loan.
All this while Marion continued to incur fees of $1,300 per day, “charged to the First Nation against its will,” Spence said.
In December 2011, Spence filed a court injunction challenging the federal government’s decision to appoint a third-party manager. Judge Michael Phelan ruled in early March that Attawapiskat’s request did not meet the legal test for an injunction without a full hearing and that the separate judicial review application to quash the appointment will be heard on Apr. 24.
Spence said that despite the withdrawal of Marion, court proceedings remain in progress.
“The proceedings seek a declaration that the decision to impose the third-party manager was unlawful,” Spence said in the release.
With the withdrawal of Marion, Attawapiskat will return to co-management status.
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