Meghan Roberts, CTV Winnipeg
Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation says third party management is not the answer to complaints from the Manitoba Teachers’ Society.
MTS says teachers are getting erratic paycheques and paying into benefit and pensions plans without receiving services. The teachers’ union has asked the federal government to assign an independent party to run the First Nation.
Chief Russell Beaulieu says that would ruin the community. He says his administration is trying to pay off millions of dollars in debt left by the previous band council.
“I’m here to point fingers. This spiraling debt was as a result of the former chief,” Beaulieu said.
He says he’s met with teachers in Sandy Bay who don’t want the band going to third-party management. Beaulieu also questions whether an outside party can make that call, since Sandy Bay is a sovereign nation.
MTS president Paul Olson says he recognizes that Sandy Bay is a sovereign nation. He says the decision was made in consultation with teachers from Sandy Bay.
“We have teachers who are not sure if they’re going to be buying groceries on time for their kids. They’re not sure if their mortgage payment, if their car payment is going to clear. Enough. We are done,” Olson said.
Both parties agreed that there isn’t enough funding for First Nations schools from the federal government.
“First Nations schools in this country are funded a little or a lot below the level of public school education funding, and that should be offensive to all Canadians,” Olson said.
He says asking for more federal funding is out of MTS’ jurisdiction, but the union would help Sandy Bay if asked.
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada is the federal body responsible for placing First Nations under third-party management and giving funding for education on reserves.