Caldwell First Nation to elect new chief and council Saturday

The election comes following a forensic audit which found loose financial controls during and 2016 powwow and resulted in chief Louise Hiller and councillor Lonnie Dodge being removed from their positions by members.

Former chief and councillor ousted after forensic audit found loose financial controls during 2016 powwow

The Caldwell First Nation will elect a new chief and council Saturday. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

Members of the Caldwell First Nation will vote for a new chief and council Saturday.

The election comes following a forensic audit which found loose financial controls during a 2016 powwow, which resulted in chief Louise Hiller and councillor Lonnie Dodge being removed from their positions by members.

Auditors discovered more than $247,790 in "unsupported" prize payments to drummers and dancers during the two-day event held near Leamington.

A $190,000 contract to livestream the powwow and create a video telling the story of Caldwell also drew scrutiny from auditors who said Dodge signed with Moccasin Media, a company owned by Hillier's son, David, without seeking bids from other companies.

A copy of the list of nominees for council and chief of the Caldwell First Nation obtained by CBC News shows a former councillor Lonnie Dodge, left and former chief Louise Hillier, are again running for leadership roles (CBC News)

Provincial police launched an investigation into "alleged financial crimes" but determined no charges would be laid.

Members held a general meeting in September 2017 where they voted to remove Hillier and Dodge from their roles. They also decided to attempt to recover $60,000 the audit states was withdrawn by Hillier to pay Moccasin Media and another $55,000 from David.

Less than four months later, both Hillier and Dodge have been nominated as candidates in Saturday's election.

Hillier is vying for a council seat, while Dodge is one of two candidates for chief.

CBC News contacted Dodge and Hillier, but they did not respond to a request for comment.

Mail in votes votes for the election started in early December and an advanced poll was held on Jan. 13.

Members can cast a ballot at the Caldwell First Nation community centre from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and the new council is expected to be announced that night.

About the Author

Dan Taekema

Dan Taekema is a reporter/editor with CBC Hamilton. Email: daniel.taekema@cbc.ca