By Trevor Greyeyes
Here's some unsolicited advice that I am sure will be unappreciated and unwelcome but it's time for Manitoba's First Nation leaders to shut down daily operations at the Manitoba Association of Native Firefighters (MANFF) and let the province take over even if only temporarily.
The next logical step would be to call a news conference to inform the public that an operating review and audit are being conducted to determine where, if any, faults occurred. And that heads will roll if any mismanagement or criminal acts were perpetrated by MANFF staff.
It's either that or try to hold out against increasing public scrutiny.
Nobody knows just what is going on at MANFF and it's anybody's guess after news reports last week that the organization responsible for First Nation flood evacuees owes hotels more than $3 million.
Again, news reports indicate that the province has been paying out all receipts submitted by MANFF.
So, somewhere between the provincial government of Manitoba sending money to MANFF and the hotels there are millions of dollars missing.
Now, the situation might be one where there's a perfectly logical explanation.
If that's case, it's a win because you've come across as true stewards and leaders by getting to the bottom of a situation.
However, it would be an unfortunate situation if there's been some bad decisions about how to spend the funds given to support flood evacuees. And even worse if there was outright theft of money.
Therefore, the MANFF board should be ready to turn anything found in an audit to the RCMP to see if criminal charges should be laid.
Now, here's an interesting factoid to keep in mind that MANFF doesn't fall under the recently passed First Nations Transparency Act.
That's something the First Nations leadership who sit on the MANFF board of directors should consider.
For example, if the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) was able to spin gold from the literal hay of a few dozen First Nation protesters and fomenting outrage in the mainstream media then think what can be done around well heeled First Nation politicians and their third party organizations.
Believe me, if it comes out that millions are missing and no one knows where it went something smelly is going to hit the fan.
And then all the third party organizations will be under scrutiny from local chiefs' representative organizations like the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, Southern Chiefs Organization to tribal councils and perhaps even the likes of Tribal Councils Investment Group.
After all, the CTF have chiefs cornered in First Nation communities so why not the third party organizations where numerous chiefs sit on many boards receiving third party honoraria and per diem cheques.
Here's another interesting fact.
The public has no idea who actually sits on the MANFF board.
It's not listed on their website nor is the organization taking media questions.
I have been making inquiries about who actually sits on the MANFF board and would it surprise anyone that some names of prominent First Nation leaders were mentioned.
At this time, however, I can't name names because there is no outside confirmation.
So, tomorrow I will be taking a little trip down to the Woodsworth Building on the 10th floor to see if I can make an official request to find out who sits on the board.
The reason why it's important to know who sits on the board comes down to accountability.
Ultimately, it's the board of directors who are responsible.
That's why the board should do the right thing and halt all activity at the organization, conduct a review and an audit.
After a short trip to the Manitoba Companies Office, I have the MANFF board of directors that was last updated with this office.
Manitoba Association of Native Fire Fighters
c/o Manitoba Companies Office April 12, 2013
Board of Directors
Doyle Wilson (vice president)
Gerald Houle (president)
David Moose Christian Edwards
Dean Cochrane (treasurer)