Protesters carried signs outside the band office in Fort McKay, Alta., on Wednesday morning. First Nation members are asking the Canada Revenue Agency to investigate the band's financial records. ((CBC))

Members of the Fort McKay First Nation are asking the Canada Revenue Agency to investigate the band's financial records.

The members say they became worried when word leaked that the head of a band agency was given $250,000 in a severance payment.

Denise Beairsto was the office administrator for the Fort McKay Industry Relations Corporation (FMIRC), a band agency that works with industry in the area on issues such as air monitoring and land use.

Beairsto said she found the executive director of FMIRC was getting $250,000 in severance pay.

The amount surprised her, so she wrote a memo to the band councillors telling them of the payment, she said. In the memo, she questioned the appropriateness of the amount and suggested it be reviewed.

Beairsto heard back from two of the four councillors, both expressing concern. However, the next day, she was fired, she said.

She said it's not the first time she has had issue with band finances. She is now asking the federal government to investigate.

"I have reported quite detailed information to Revenue Canada," Beairsto said.  "And there is a case file on it, so they are investigating."

'Fort McKay should have been paved in gold'

On Wednesday, a dozen band members protested in front of band offices. They said the money could be better spent.

"Fort McKay should have been paved in gold, you know, considering we are in the middle of the oilsands industry here," said one band member, Madelaine DeLisle. "People are still struggling with social assistance, just barely making ends meet, like single moms living on welfare for $500 a month."

Band members said the executive director of FMIRC, Lisa Schaldemose, is being hired to work in another job with the band. Schaldermose would not comment.

Chief Jim Boucher would not comment directly on Schaldemose's severance, but told the CBC that $250,000 is "not a terrifically large amount of money."

He said the band is doing a survey on pay scales for senior managers in the region, and that a manager for a small company would be looking at $350,000 to $500,000 excluding bonuses.

Boucher said he welcomes an audit and is confident band finances will be found sound.