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Yk band under fire
Ndilo chief endorses removal of Dettah chief

Miranda Scotland
Northern News Services
Published Monday, June 11, 2012

A letter to the prime minister, signed by Ndilo Chief Ted Tsetta and former band councillor Nuni Sanspariel, has raised further concerns about alleged mismanagement and corruption in the Yellowknives Dene First Nations band council.

In the document, Tsetta and Sanspariel call for third-party management of the band and the termination of Dettah Chief Ed Sangris as well as band council.

The letter is written in the first person as if Tsetta and Sanspariel were the authors. However, Tsetta and Sanspariel said neither of them wrote the letter, though they confirmed that they endorsed it.

"Membership put it together," Tsetta told News/North. "I looked at it and it looked like it was something that needed to be done ... When membership tells you to do something, you have to follow through."

The document comes on the heels of another letter written to the prime minister by band member Barbara Powless-Labelle.

In that document Powless-Labelle outlined concerns about the conduct of council members, a lack of public consultation and "mismanagement" of funds from the band's public and impacts benefit agreement (IBA).

The Yellowknives Dene First Nation responded to those previous accusations in a press release, saying they were untrue.

"Ms. Barbara Powless-Labelle, a past council member of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, has on many previous occasions voiced similar concerns which have been addressed," the press release read.

"The comments made bear little resemblance to the actual facts and are generally ill-informed and totally without foundation."

However, this new letter states that 95 per cent of the issues raised by Powless-Labelle are "true and accurate."

"The Government of Canada should be seriously concerned about the abuse and corruption by this current chief and council," it states. "I'm writing and requesting for your immediate and urgent assistance."

The solution, the author writes, is to bring in a third party to manage the day-to-day affairs of the Yellowknives office of Dettah and Ndilo, Det'on Cho Corporation and Goyatiko Language Department; to terminate Chief Sangris and band council and call an election; and to have a forensic audit of the Yellowknives' affairs for any potential fraud.

The Yellowknives council were unable to provide comment by press time.

Sanspariel, who stepped down from the band council last month, citing his frustration over the band's leadership and its alleged corruption, said he stands behind the information in the letter and believes that something must be done for the future of the Yellowknives band.

"They (band members) want something done, they want to see something for their kids, for their future, for down the road.

"We have to plan for the future, not just think about what's going on right now," said Sanspariel, who ran for Dettah chief against Sangris last year and lost 237 to 104.

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