Esgenoôpetitj First Nation in ‘lose-lose’ over federal funding
Annual agreement undermines social programs, such as housing, says band councillor
Members of the Esgenoôpetitj First Nation say they're being forced into signing what they believe is an inadequate funding agreement with the federal government.
Coun. Curtis Bartibogue says this year's annual agreement provides less funds for social programs, such as housing, and will leave his community in a state of catastrophe.
"They're doing all this without any consultation towards First Nations — and they're doing it regardless of what our stand is," said Bartibogue, noting his community is already one of the poorest in the country.
But if band members don't sign the agreement, they'll lose all federal funding on April 1 and day-to-day operations would come to a halt, he said.
"Definitely a lose-lose situation for our leadership here in Esgenoôpetitj, basically we have a gun to our heads," said Bartibogue.
Changes 'solely administrative'
In an emailed statement, Aboriginal Affairs said changes to the agreement are "solely administrative," and would have no impact on recipients.
The deadline to sign the agreement passed last week. On Friday, council members met with representatives of Aboriginal Affairs to iron out conflicts over treaties.
The council will meet again on Tuesday to reconsider whether or not to sign the funding agreement, said Bartibogue.