Innu protesters demand answers from development company
A group of Innu people demonstrated at the office of the Innu Development Limited Partnership in Sheshatshiu, calling for answers into how the company handled hundreds of thousands of dollars in salaries for board members.
The demonstrators were angry that Paul Riche, the former CEO of the company, was paid more than a million dollars over the past two years. They were also upset that the IDLP, a company owned by the Innu communities of Natuashish and Sheshatshiu, has not disclosed where its profits are going.
"We never had any annual general meetings for them to tell us, both communities, tell us where is the money, and what happened to it, and where is it going, how is it being spent," said protester Helen Andrew. "We don't know nothing."
The protesters said the money the IDLP paid out in salaries would be better spent on improving roads and creating housing in both communities.
Election financing a concern
They also said they were disturbed to discover that the IDLP gave federal cabinet minister Peter Penashue a $25,000 loan for his 2011 federal election campaign, breaking from its usual practice of not handing out personal loans.
"Nobody on the leadership told us that money's going to be used for campaign purposes, for elections," said Sylvester Antuan.
Neither Paul Rich nor current board members of the IDLP have spoken publicly about the controversy.
The group ended their demonstration by using a rock and a nail to board the door of the office closed, and they vowed to keep it shut until there is a full investigation into the company's finances.