Grassroots stymied

To the editor:
I would like to publicly congratulate the group of women from the Rainy River First Nation who protested at their band office earlier this month.
In my community, we have similar problems. I also have written letters and asked community members about the Casino Rama money.
The Casino Rama lawyer visited our community close to two years ago. He mentioned that in order for bands to receive their Casino Rama allocation, each and every band member living on or off the reserve had to vote in a referendum as to whether or not to accept the Casino Rama dollars, with typical governmental strings attached to force us on how we are supposed to spend our own money.
This referendum did not happen in Big Grassy. Yet, they are giving out Casino Rama money to people left and right. People receive boats and motors, or should I say certain families received the boats and motors. I asked why they are spending the Casino Rama money when they should not even have it in the first place?
My requests for information is simply ignored and they continue to spend that money. Many of these people receiving this money do not even know that they are receiving Casino Rama money–they are being corrupted without their knowledge.
The only way I would agree to the disbursement of Casino Rama money is to collect my equal and fair share into my bank account. Time after time, I see our band leaders spending money according to their own greedy, politically-motivated needs, sautéed with a pinch or pailful of nepotism, even though it rightfully belongs to the people.
They are telling us that they know what is good for us and they will take our money from us to prove it. What are the grassroots supposed to do when our own leaders do not listen and cannot be trusted?
The chiefs and councils treat their own band members the exact same way they are being treated by the minister of Indian Affairs. What flows down hill again?
Who are we supposed to channel our frustrations to? Indian Affairs tells us it is the chief and council; chief and council say it is Indian Affairs. What do we do when the people we complain about are the people who choose on what to do to those who complain? The judge and jury.
This absolute power of the chief and council, derived from the Indian Act, creates Canadian government-sanctioned absolute corruption. Shame on Canada for obviously creating a civil war of sorts.
Another issue was my call for a forensic audit on band finances for Big Grassy. I was ignored again. I thought this new council would step up and stop the irresponsible overspending of our leaders. Instead, the council takes their share, in advance of a fiscal year’s amount of committee, board, and honorarium money, and head to the shops and start buying cars and furniture.
Where else in Canada is it legal to practise this obvious misuse of money and power? Where else can a person go from mother’s allowance or welfare and be the wealthiest on the reserve?
Is it far better to join the group of silent embezzlers?
We, the grassroots people, need a legitimate avenue in which we can vent our frustrations out in a healthy way.
Pierre Tuesday
Big Grassy F.N.