Charmaine Stick is preparing for a trip. She’ll leave her kids with a babysitter and drive six hours from the Onion Lake Cree Nation to Regina. She’s not catching a concert or going to the spa. She’s going to a courtroom to hear lawyers argue over a question she raised: do First Nations leaders have an obligation to publish basic financial documents such as their salaries and the band’s audited financial statements?
This legal question is personal for Stick. Onion Lake has energy resources in addition to government funding, but band members are often told there’s no money to pay for housing repairs or travel expenses for medical appointments. Stick has raised repeated questions about the band’s money and went on a 13-day hunger strike to demand transparency.
Stick is now partnering with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation to launch a court application to compel Onion Lake’s leaders to provide transparency. Her lawyer will argue The First Nations Financial Transparency Act specifically requires accountability and that there’s a basic responsibility all leaders have to provide transparency.