Alexandra (Paul of the Winnipeg Free Press),
Thank you for sending me this email information. Let me correct the allegations that Ken Henry is making. The statement the Gas station was built with Trust investment is a lie.
We asked Co-op to build the Gas Station. They flat out said no. Then we approached Tribal Council Invest Group (TCIG), they said yes but it would take them two years to build it. Next we approached Penner Oil who said yes, he would do it. He got it built in five months with the other investor David Doer and opened by December 2007. David Doer had worked with my daughter for two years in her Gas Bar at the main reserve. David wanted Kathy to own the store because it required participation by a band member and Kathy had some money to invest. Kathy had operated a Gas Bar for seven years before I became Chief. She already knew the business. When the business plan came to Chief and Council, I stepped out of the vote. The other four members of council passed the motion.
Ken Henry jr. has never been able to create any business in his term of office. I built two Gaming Center, a Gas Station and I brought in an $80.6 million land claim settlement. I had also built the Ginew Wellness Center where we created many new jobs. In the almost three years of being Chief, Ken Henry has created no jobs and spent over $14 million in interest and loan income that we as the previous administration brought in under the settlement. We also left them ability to access $1.2 million per year in Tobacco Tax Rebates from the Red Gas Bar and the Gas Bar on Reserve. When they came in, they refused to honor the 20 year investment agreement signed with Kathy Nelson, David Doer and Larry Penner.
We created over 60 jobs in the new Gaming Centers and at the Gas Stations. We took the First Nation Chief and Council off government funding. We created millions of dollars in new money with our own source revenue. All of it without Government funding. I convinced the investors to invest. As Chief, I knew that politics and business by committee destroys First Nations businesses. I wanted private investors to run the businesses. The hard work of the investors created a business that sells the most gasoline of any Gas Station in Manitoba. Red Sun created 35 new First Nation jobs. We took some of the youth off welfare and we had created a chance for Roseau River to attract investment. White investors believed in Roseau River and were willing to create jobs for First Nation people. Now that is all gone.
Now there will lawsuits. Most First Nations are dealing with 60 to 95% unemployment. The only way out of the poverty is to create business and to attract investment. The action by Chief Ken Henry will send a chill on investment into First Nations. White people believed that they could operate and invest into a reservation. I got them to trust Roseau River, now that is all gone. David Doer is the brother to Gary Doer, the former Premier of Manitoba, now Canadian Ambassador to the United States. Thirty-five jobs are gone. Penner will sue Kathy and Kathy will sue the First Nation. Here is the issue, individuals on reserve have no rights, according to the Indian Act, all property on reserve belongs to the Chief and Council, yet the Treaty states, one hundred sixty acres per family of five. I left the First Nation in good financial shape. The $61.5 million in capital in the Trust settlement we brought in will generate $584 million in payments to the First Nation in the first 100 years, all the while, it increases to over $300 million in capital in the first 100 years. We locked that in by referendum of the people.
The reservation land at Rosser would have created $400 million in sales and $40 million in payments per year back to Roseau River if the big box stores had come in but the people who opposed me voted down the designation that would have protected investors and banks. No investors are coming in now that the lawsuits will start. Ken Henry has only one objective, that is to destroy everything that I built. My family created so much jobs and income into the community. We did this long before I became Chief. I tried to safeguard the investors. I failed. Now where are the investors who will take the chance of investing into an unstable climate on reserve. This is sad for all the workers who are now unemployed.
This is exactly why I believe in private enterprise. IN the Urban Reserve Conference we did on February 26 in Winnipeg, the West Bank First Nation Urban Reserve in Kelowna British Columbia was explained. Eighty percent of West Bank First Nation is Certificate of Possession meaning that individuals own the reservation lands. the West Bank Urban Reserve lands. West Bank had a $500 million GDP two years ago and is still building even more businesses. Meanwhile, here we destroy private business and we killed a hundred million dollar a year business called Tribal Council Investment Group. Pepsi who mentored TCIG is wondering how they can work with First Nations. This new takeover of a private business on reserve is just another sign that we are a long way from building confidence of investors to do business on reserve.
The Ken Henry Jr. administration has spent all the millions of dollars that we brought in. Now, he is trying to convince the people of Roseau River that they can run the Gas Bar better. Penner Oil will be in court on his tanks and pumps. The Building belongs to Kathy Nelson and David Doer. This is outright theft and it is nothing more than Ken Henry trying to look good by stealing other people's work. The reason there is two thousand people a day at the Red Sun Gas Bar can only be attributed to the hard work of David Doer. He put his heart and soul into creating Red Sun Gas Bar. He spent seven years building a business on reserve that is being taken away from him.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 30, 2014 Winnipeg, MB. – Tonight, the leadership of Roseau River Anishinable First Nation (RRAFN) proudly announces that a great injustice to its community has been corrected with the long-awaited and peaceful re-possession of the Red Sun Smoke Shop and Gas Bar on Hwy. 6.
Earlier this evening, the unauthorized occupants that have been operating the business for their own personal gain were escorted off the premises by RRAFN leadership and under the supervision of the RCMP. The re-possession was performed with the legal authority granted under the Indian Act and supported by the attached Band Council Resolution. The business that was completely paid for by community funding has now been returned to its rightful owners: the people of RRAFN. A re-vitalized, community-owned business will re-open shortly under the name Kiinu Smoke Shop & Gas Bar at the site. However, this time profits generated by the business will benefit all members of the RRAFN community as was originally intended, as opposed to being manipulated to financially benefit a select few individuals.
Historical Reference: In 2007, the Red Sun Smoke Shop and Gas Bar on Hwy. 6 was built with the investment of $ 2.1 Million of Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation community money. The business was intended to be the flagship for further economic development on new treaty land entitlements under The Highway 6 Project. But most importantly, the objective of the project was to raise revenue to collectively benefit all members of the RRAFN community – not to create wealth for a select few individuals.
Unfortunately, the proper process that the community established to designate authority to operate a business on RRAFN land was purposely circumvented by past leadership for their own personal gain. As a result, Red Sun Smoke Shop & Gas Bar has been operating without the legal authority required under the Indian Act and the good will of RRAFN governance. During that period, the operating profits of the business have not been shared with RRAFN as was originally intended when the project was conceived.
In June of 2008, a referendum was held to determine if the community was prepared to allow the Hwy. 6 land (known as Reserve 2b) to be commercially designated. (See the CBC coverage on the referendum: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/reserve-s-referendum-result-puts-businesses-in-legal-limbo-1.753033)
Such designation would provide the legal authority for private individuals to lease the land, operate a business and be entitled to keep all profits from that business. However the community voted not to grant the commercial designation and as such, according to Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada: “Regional Officials have reviewed the Indian Lands Registry and note that a lease is not registered against the title. At present, the current occupant does not have a legal interest to either of these lands as authorized under the Indian Act which would otherwise have enabled her to continue business operations and secured the interest of her investors despite changes in leadership. Without a legal interest registered under the Indian Act, her operations remain subject to the continued goodwill of the Band Council.”
“The current Band Council of RRAFN wish to clearly state for the record that the good will of Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation had long since expired for the occupants of Red Sun Smoke Shop & Gas Bar,” says Roseau River Chief Ken Henry.
As such the band has acted accordingly to re-claim their original $ 2.1 Million investment and the business that has been operating without lease designation or property RRAFN authority since 2007.
“The community has spoken and they wanted the trespassers removed and the business returned to the people. I am pleased to advise my community members that we have executed their will and the business that they bought and paid for years ago has been finally returned to them.“
RRAFN has several exciting new additions planned for the new store that they believe travelers will greatly appreciate including a state-of-the-art hot food “grab n’ go” program and several product specials. The community plans to continue developing the Hwy. 6 land to offer more services to travelers while helping the community to operate independently of the involvement of 3rd party financial management services.
“We look forward to welcoming all customers to our community-owned store shortly. Never before have the words “under new management” meant so much to so many people,” adds Chief Henry.
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* Press Conference to follow on Thursday, May 1st at 10:00 AM at the Red Sun Gas Bar on Hwy. 6 *
RRAFN Chief Ken Henry will be available for interviews
Chief of Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation