Frustrated band members say chief Crookedneck has issued full cheque signing authority to an unelected member, Strider Lacosse and his business partner Dan Osvat. Lewis explained chief Crookedneck and three councillors have quorum voting power and purposely exclude her and councilor Leon Crookedneck from those meetings. She claims when she attempts to hold a general meeting, she has been threatened by remaining council for having illegal meetings or for having gatherings under COVID-19 restrictions. She also claims no minutes are taken at meetings and none have happened to date.
“Its very frustrating. It takes away our own community’s rights. We can’t speak for our people who have concerns but our employees are afraid to support us because they will get fired,” Lewis said. “As long as Strider is here, our band employees will get fired.”
A member of the band who wished to remain anonymous for safety reasons said over $1.2 million in Ammunition and Twine funding has been in development for 17 years where nearly 900 members over the age of 18 were expecting those funds this year.
To prove their claims, the anonymous complainant presented stacks of scanned cheque images allegedly made out from the band’s general account to either Tripoint Financial Management, the Chief, or Osvat, all of which contained transfers of thousands of dollars.
Lewis also claimed the community was expecting to receive pandemic assistance dollars from April to June where only one cheque was issued.
A former educator in the community says she was issued an advance from the band ahead of employment cheques she was expecting. She was expecting to see a deduction from her paycheque to pay back the advance on two separate occasions. She says she was given four thousand dollars in “free money” which she was expecting to pay back.
A community Elder who also wished to remain anonymous is asking for a general band meeting and a forensic audit.
“16 years of that is too long. We haven’t heard from our chief nor has he responded to any emails,” she said. “Although he’s driven by where we are sitting, they’ve driven by several times and have not made an effort to stop by and see what we’re doing. He’s turned a blind eye on everybody.”
Leslie Crookedneck and Strider Lacrosse were contacted for comment but did not immediately return calls.
Meadow Lake Tribal Council also did not immediately respond.
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) has also been contacted and we await comment.
MeadowlakeNOW will follow this story as new details emerge.