Two off-reserve businesses that were run by the Katlodeeche First Nation in Hay River, N.W.T., are in financial trouble, frustrating band members who want to work.
The Castle Building Centre went bankrupt last month and is currently restructuring, while the Hay River Bakery has closed its doors.
"I thought everything was going well while I was there," said Hay River band member Agnes Fabian, who did her culinary arts practicum at the bakery before continuing her studies in Alberta.
"I went back to school after my practicum was done and came back and found out the bakery's no longer open. It's disappointing, because there's lots of things I would have liked to have done with the place."
Officials with both the First Nation and the affected businesses did not want to comment, but some on the reserve say they're tired of seeing opportunities lost.
"For some reason, it always seems that they either fail, or there's miscommunication, or the council's trying to run everything themselves and not understanding the business aspect of what goes on behind closed doors," said member Amos Cardinal.
"When you get into business and you're not understanding about what goes on, you can lose your shirt."
Cardinal added that young, educated band members should be given a chance to run the First Nation's off-reserve businesses, as opposed to hiring non-members.
"We seem to be paying all outside members, non-members of the First Nations to come work for us for an X amount of dollars. But yet when it comes to our own people who are well-qualified to sit in these positions, we don't want to pay them that big dollar," he said.
"Pay them the dollar they're worth so we can keep these people at home, as opposed to them getting frustrated and they have to leave the community."