January 28, 2013

When I saw the front page story in the WCR (“Churches line up to support fasting aboriginal chief,” WCR, Jan. 14), I thought I would get an unbiased account of just what is going on in Attawapiskat and why this woman is fasting on fish soup and herbal tea.

I still am no more knowledgeable than when I started. What precisely does Chief Spence want? Honouring Indian treaties is pretty general, and she and her supporters seem to be blaming everyone else for the dire circumstances this community is in.

It is also fair for taxpayers to want to know how all the money this reserve has received was spent. Deloitte and Touche is a reputable firm, and it says millions given for health and housing are not accounted for.

Despite $90 million poured into the reserve over five years by the federal government — into a town with fewer than 500 families ($36,000 per family tax free) —dozens of band members live in shanties and shacks, and even some families are in tents.

How much of this money reached the people who needed it? In 2007, band manager, George Lanouette, made $173,000 tax free. Chief Theresa Spence’s boyfriend was hired on as Attawapiskat’s town manager and earns $850 a day. The chief herself makes $70,000 a year.

The school was torn down due to diesel fumes and has not been rebuilt, but $96,089 was spent on a new Olympia model ice resurfacer. The list of wasteful spending goes on and on. That is mismanagement plain and simple. You do not pour good money after bad.

Behaviour that could cost you your life and encourage others to do the same is not responsible leadership and should not be supported by the Church. Identifying the problems and solving them is.

B. McLaughlin
Sherwood Park