By Kirk Starratt
A Kentville woman has been charged with theft over $5,000 from the Glooscap Variety Store, Gas Bar and Gaming Room, located at Glooscap First Nation, south of Hantsport.
Robin Connell, 45, will appear in Kentville court on the charge Oct. 15.
In May, the Glooscap First Nations completed an audit of finances and identified irregularities at the store, which is owned by the band. This information was sent to the Kings District RCMP. Police conducted an investigation in co-operation with Glooscap First Nation.
The investigation determined that internal thefts occurred over the past year at the business.
Glooscap First Nation Chief Sidney Peters said Connell is not a band member and was employed at the business for less than three years. The business sells convenience and lunch items, tobacco, gasoline and has a room with video lottery terminals. They employ approximately 20 people.
“There’s no way we, as chief or council, could accuse anybody,” Peters said. “We knew we had to bring the proper authorities in.”
Peters said the band conducts a financial audit every year, which discovered the discrepancies. A “substantial amount” of money was unaccounted for, and while Peters said they hoped someone had made a mistake with the numbers, “numbers don’t lie.”
Peters said he double-checked with the auditors, asking them if they were sure the money was missing, then the band contacted the RCMP to investigate. The matter is now out of the hands of the chief and band council.
Peters said the community is not afraid to ask for help when needed and this is how similar situations will be handled in the future.
Peters said he and council is working toward trust, respect and honesty from band members through increased transparency and accountability. There has been a wide review of policies and bylaws since the last election, about a year and a half ago. There are 331 Glooscap First Nation band members scattered throughout Atlantic Canada and the New England states and several community engagement meetings have been held.
One step to help improve transparency and accountability was to provide an annual budget to band members. He said they would present the findings of the audit and the resulting action taken at the band’s next annual meeting.
“It’s not my money, it’s our money,” Peters added, and described the situation with the alleged theft as “unfortunate.”