Friendship Centre board dissolved

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

The recently-elected High Prairie Native Friendship Centre board of directors has been removed from their duties.

A letter dated Oct. 7, co-authored by Joanne Mason, executive director, Alberta Native Friendship Centres Association, and Len Morisette, president, ANFCA, told the local board they were being removed immediately, pursuant to Section 17 of the Membership Agreement.

The new board was elected Aug. 25 and served only 44 days before the action was taken. It was given little chance to correct a long list of a several serious allegations by the ANFCA accusing the local board of not taking corrective measures to several concerns.

Board president Ryk Badger did not respond to several phone calls Oct. 23-25 when given a chance to respond to the accusations.

In regard to financial mismanagement, the ANFCA writes and alleges in the letter:

  • overspending on the Government of Alberta Wildland Contract in the amount of $89,927.23;
  • allowing arrears for source deductions to accrue in the amount of $20,092.50 as of May 27, 2020;
  • exceeding and mismanaging the UPIP-PSS budget allocation by exceeding UPIP budget, changing cashflows without prior approval, income statements noting inappropriate expenses paid out, filed incorrectly, or assigned to the wrong grant;
  • risk management assessment conducted in 2018-19 fiscal year revealed significant financial mismanagement and highlighted need for the board to address shortcomings;
  • failed to properly manage grant money/funding, including:
    • delaying the depositing of the AHS cheque for Honouring Life project thereby requiring project specific expenses to be paid from alternative funding sources;
    • failing to properly utilize Shell grant money:
    • PDD contract having inappropriate expenditures as well – overspent significantly.

The ANFCA also alleges several improper practices:

  • repeatedly failing to attend board meetings such that quorum is not met;
  • failing to provide proper oversight of and direction to employees;
  • inappropriate oversight of financial and human resources;
  • entering into a contract for services with one of its own board members, in contravention of the bylaws;
  • appointment of board members and/or hiring family members as employees of the HPNFC in contravention of the HPNFC’s policies;
  • failing to complete annual reports by the deadline, thereby delaying funding.

The letter also reads, “The ANFCS has repeatedly attempted to impose corrective measures but the HPNFC has failed to implement such corrective measures.”

The ANFCA also writes they sent a letter to the HPNFC on Aug. 13 with their concerns asking for a “satisfactory response” but “no response was received.”

As a result, they pulled the plug.

“It has become abundantly clear that HPNFC continues to mismanage the resources [both financial and human] and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future unless the ANFCA exercises its right to remove the governance of the HPNFC…”

The ANFCA’s Oct. 7 letter makes no mention of the election of the new board. The Aug. 13 letter clearly lays the blame on the state of affairs on the old board.

The ANFCA has appointed a new board comprised of Kirby Bigchild, Barb Courtorielle, Val Findlay, Marlene Gervais, Len Morisette, and Wes Crow Shoe.

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