Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com
Gull Bay's newly elected Chief Wilfred King will be asking for a band council audit following allegations of nearly $1 million in mishandled funds.
A recently elected First Nation chief is asking where nearly $1 million went in two years.
Wilfred King said his community was in good financial shape when he left office in 2010. King had been chief of Gull Bay for eight years. When he was voted out, the First Nation community on Lake Nipigon was more than $1 million in the black. He was re-elected to chief Sunday.
On Monday, King opened the books to find under $100,000 of that money left.
“Which will not even meet our payroll requirements for the month of January,” King said before a chief and council meeting Monday to over the band’s next steps.
A full financial assessment needs to be done. King is also waiting for the results of an Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada audit that was due in July. In the meantime, he wants to speak with former chief Miles Nowegijick.
“That’s the hope that we would be able to speak with the former representatives of the community to see exactly where the funds went,” King said.
“I’m quite disappointed with the current financial status.”
There were some homes built in the past two years that might explain where some of the money went. But King said they are half-completed and doesn’t know where the funding came from to build them.
Hugh King, a councillor with 20 years experience, was on the previous council but said not one meeting was held during the two-year term. He thought everything in the community was running smoothly but had no way to tell. When he finally got a chance to see the band finances, it was a surprise.
“I was left out in the cold, no council meetings , nothing,” he said.
The chief said it’s frustrating because the community had worked hard to get its finances together.
“It doesn’t take very long to tear it apart,” King said. “We almost have to start all over again.”
In the meantime, the council will try and determine what the community’s essential services are in order to maintain health and safety King said.