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Squamish Nation deals with fallout from financial investigation

Members push for more action in wake of $1.5 million in unaccounted-for funds


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Squamish Nation members are calling on their leaders for more answers in the wake of a financial scandal that has rocked the close-knit First Nations community.

On Sunday, Oct. 26, member Beverly Brown put forward a motion at the general meeting, which was only open to Squamish Nation members, calling for a forensic audit for the last 15 years that would involve all band businesses and departments. Members supported her motion.

"We have no idea where we're at financially," said Brown. "We need to find out. And to have the support to pass that for the forensic audit is a big, big deal."

Her motion comes on the heels of an internal investigation into $1.5 million in unaccounted-for funds. The Squamish First Nation has an annual budget of $57 million.

The investigation found no "direct evidence" that the funds were kept by those involved, but alleged two elected officials handed out funds to develop political support from members.

The two long-serving members — Councillor Krisandra Jacobs and band manager Glen Newman — were stripped of their duties last week but remain in office.

"They were still refusing really to provide real answers," said Brown of the leaders at the meeting.

Brown said she was not the only one to speak out and raise motions as part of the fallout from the financial scandal.

Another detailed motion called for Jacobs and Newman to legally vacate their elected positions immediately.

It was passed with 191 in favour, 35 against and 12 abstaining, according to numbers provided to the Pique by Brown. Attempts to reach an official band spokesperson to confirm these details were not successful before press time.

A third motion was put forward calling for the removal of the department head for finance.

When asked about the mood at the meeting, Brown said: "Generally dissatisfaction, very unhappy with the $1.5 million missing. It is from our own-source revenue and that doesn't rub well with the community."

Membership will vote on the motions again at Totem Hall in Squamish, at a scheduled meeting Nov. 16.

"The second vote will determine whether they're instituted. So it's now a matter of: are we going to have enough turnout that we can pass it?"

Meanwhile, North Vancouver police confirmed this week that its economic crime unit is still in discussions with the band. Cpl. Richard De Jong said it is expected to take some time to properly determine the next course of action that may be taken.