Community members in Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation have some unanswered questions for the Two Feathers Forest Products Partnership.
Members of the Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation (WLON) gathered Aug. 31 to discuss what some perceive to be financial complications with the joint forest products venture involving Wabigoon Lake, Eagle Lake and Pikangikum First Nations.
With band members, non-band members, and Two Feathers executive and consultants on hand, many questions were asked, and very few answers were given.
Following a protest held on the Wabigoon Lake First Nations property, band member Kevin Gardner of WLON has received over 80 signatures on a petition to be presented to Two Feathers.
The petition outlines the demands of the Wabigoon Lake First Nations people, including the requirement to view the financials and expenditures of the Two Feathers partnership, as well as demanding an in-depth report on all aspects of past, present and future standings of the Two Feathers company and all subsidiary companies.
WLON members are also asking to see financial reports on other economic ventures, including the tree nursery, the community store, flood claims money, Casino-rama money, and bingo funds, and how these funds are being connected to the Two Feathers partnership.
Gardner reports that at the meeting Two Feathers stated they are currently running a deficit of $4.65 million and that financial statements and balance sheets were still not provided during the meeting.
With over $13 million in funding being received by different agencies of the Government of Canada and Ontario, Greg Rickford, MP of the Kenora Riding, has spearheaded a majority of that funding.
Although Rickford has no knowledge of the animosity between band members and Two Feathers, and chose not to comment on the protest, he did relay that himself and his team worked tremendously hard on bringing a number of the pieces of the puzzle together so that Two Feathers could move forward.
“It’s not so much that we funded Two Feathers, as much as we funded the kinds of things that Two Feathers would need to move forward,” states Rickford.
Two Feathers President, Terry Favelle refused access of the meeting to members of the media, and at a later point in the meeting when limited financial information was being brought forward, Favelle also asked all non-band members to leave.
Chief of WLON, Ruben Cantin, also refused comment when contacted, stating a press release would be forthcoming.
Gardner says members of WLON are planning to host a public meeting for members, and request a non-confidence vote against the Two Feathers executive.
It is the hope of the WLON members to have Favelle supply financial reports on all business ventures, and allow the company to continue to bring opportunity to the area.
By Ally Dunham