LEAMINGTON – The chief and a band councillor from a small Southwestern Ontario First Nation have been removed from office in the fallout of a nearly $600,000 band powwow, an audit of which found much of the spending wasn’t backed up.
Some frustrated band members, who sought answers at a weekend membership meeting with the council, got nowhere, told instead answers couldn’t be provided because a police investigation is underway.
Chief Louise Hillier and her entire council from the Caldwell First Nation had already been suspended in June, as band members demanded the forensic audit into the powwow held last summer in Leamington to celebrate the band’s $105-million land claim settlement in 2011 with the federal government.
The issue came to a boil over the weekend, at a meeting with band members, during which the band council held an impromptu, closed session during the lunch hour and decided to remove Hillier and councillor Lonnie Dodge, a band source said.
“Basically, after lunch break we started the (members’) meeting back up and Louise and Lonnie were gone,” said the band member, who did not want to be named.
Reached Sunday, Dodge — who had signed a $190,000 video services contract for the Caldwell Fist Nation with the chief’s son, also cited as a concern in the audit — declined comment.
“Any other day I would be more than happy to sit and talk,” he said, adding that he could not because there is a police investigation.
Hillier and other band council members couldn’t be reached for comment.
What police force might be investigating, and what exactly, wasn’t immediately clear.