Troubling numbers

Re: Idle no more and Theresa Spence, Chief of the Attawapiskat First Nation.

Troubling numbers

Re: Idle no more and Theresa Spence, Chief of the Attawapiskat First Nation.

Here we go again. A year ago, we were blamed for all the trouble at the Attawpiskat First Nation (AFN). Now she is going one better — she is on a hunger strike and will die for her people if that what it takes.

Well, she does not need to worry about dying as this is not a hunger strike, just an attention grabber, and she loves attention.

Here are a few facts about Spence and the AFN — all figures are taken from their website and are the result of an audit by an accounting firm from Timmins, Ont.

2011 total revenue: $34,414,888. Total expenses: $31,174,847. Surplus for 2011: $3,140,041. Accumulated surplus at the end of 2011: $60,686,128.

A trust fund was set up in 2007 to receive yearly payments from the mining company DeBeers. In 2011 $2,050,000 was received from DeBeers. The accumulated surplus in the trust fund was $8,862,964 at the end of 2011.

They have a capital account (in trust) that holds $9,553,739, all of which is invested in the stock market. Included in the trust is $612,882 in Government of Canada bonds.

Think about it — they receive free money from you and I, then lend it back to us and we pay them interest on it.

How crazy is that? But I guess we should blame the fools in Ottawa for allowing that.

Figures supplied by the AFN show a population of approximately 1,800, yet they have a council of 22 people, including two chiefs and one deputy chief. Plus they have five unelected officials.

Their reported salary and honouraria is $978,989.

They report having approximately 600 students attending school and they have 14 school board members, who in 2011 were paid a total of $223,640. Total reported spending on salaries for council and school board wages: $1,202,629.

They also report administration fees of $3,290,047 and further wages/benefits of $11,228,614. Take off the reported $1,202,629 for council and school board salaries and you are left with $10,025,985,

Well, where did it go? The auditor attached a few pages to his report indicating that the AFN finances were a mess and they have no way of tracking the money.

It does not have to be this way — there are numerous First Nations in Canada that are doing extremely well, but they are usually found in areas where there are opportunities for employment.

Here is a suggestion: use some of the surplus money and build homes (you have the funds) and educate your people and stop blaming every one else for your trouble.

Barney Feenstra

Qualicum Beach

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