Updated: Nov 13, 2020
A forensic audit is being undertaken by Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) concerning the Saddle Lake First Nation, located in northern Alberta.
The audit is being done in accordance with s. 8.1.1 of the March 2018 Funding Agreement between SLCN and the Crown signed by then-Chief Eddy Makokis. ISC has a legal obligation to ensure that there is not a pattern of misappropriation of funds by SLCN, and that Council and Administration are not in breach of their fiduciary obligation to the people of SLCN.
ISC has received enough evidence to warrant the forensic audit. On October 24th, ISC auditors entered the SLCN Band Office and retrieved the physical records and computer server data that they are legally entitled to retrieve in order to perform their audit. They have removed these records temporarily in order to obtain accurate complete copies. All information and equipment will be returned within 7 days.
Outraged band members have taken action in response. An online petition has been set up by concerned members of onihcikiskwapowin (the Saddle Lake First Nation), urging their leaders to do the following:
Immediately disclose and release all Minutes, Motions and Band Council Resolutions (BCR’s) related to the Natural Law Energy MOU and associated processes
Immediately disclose and release all Minutes, Motions and BCR’s related to any financial decisions/ sponsorships and operations (expenditures) of band business entities
Disclose and release any future minutes, motions and BCR’s to members as requested. All decisions should be made transparent and available to membership upon request
Immediately request a forensic audit to be commenced and completed (from 2010-2020). Results of this audit is to be disclosed to membership at a public meeting that is advertised in advance for people to attend
Commence the development of a Saddle Lake Cree Nation leadership code of ethics and conduct
Commence the development of laws and policies for financial transparency and accountability (including, but not limited to: finance law, finance policies, financial management law, etc)
Establish an elders, women and youth council that oversees the conduct of Council, participates in decision making and advises Chief and Council on important matters
Establish a Process to seek input from membership on all important matters that include but are not limited to: finances, band litigation, lands and land use, Treaties and any large business deals with industry (including oil and gas companies) and other areas that arise through consultation with membership
Establish a Process that allows membership to participate in meetings virtually or posts meeting videos, minutes and documents from meetings on the website (membership only access)
The Chief of Saddle Lake, Eric Shirt, has expressed his support for the audit, asking his councilors to stand shoulder to shoulder with him, stating:
"It is the will of the people of Saddle Lake. What you do in this moment will define your reputation forever and be remembered next election, which may come sooner than you think.
So you understand, there is no council motion or member petition that can stop this Forensic Audit. It is entirely in the hands of Indigenous Services Canada now and anyone found guilty of wrongdoing will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. The people of Saddle Lake overwhelmingly voted for change and transparency last election."
The following document was circulated from the Office of the Chief: