Leaders from Fort Providence have spoken out against comments made by Deh Cho MLA Ronald Bonnetrouge, who implied in late May that a company serving the community is unaccountable in how it spends $200,000 every year.
The MLA said in the Legislative Assembly on May 28 that members of the Deh Gah Bridge committee, based in Fort Providence, operate as a “secretive group” who ignored his inquiries about administrative and financial matters.
“I have asked the band councils and that if these boards are accountable to them and if they see reports, and they don’t seem to want to do that. They don’t want to hold anybody accountable for anything,” Bonnetrouge said.
The MLA raised the issue while discussing the Deh Cho Bridge Opportunities Grant, a program based on an agreement between the GNWT and Fort Providence that provides $200,000 per year to groups in the community. The program was developed after the dissolution of the Deh Cho Bridge Corporation 10 years ago. It is also known as the Community Opportunities and Involvement Agreement.
Bonnetrouge said he wasn’t sure how the $200,000 was being spent on a yearly basis and how it helped create employment in Fort Providence. He asked Infrastructure Minister Katrina Nokleby if she could write a letter to the Deh Gah Bridge committee to “initiate discussions leading up to any changes that we can see.” Nokleby responded that she would look into providing as much information as she could about how those funds are being spent.
But in a joint news release issued by the Fort Providence Métis Council and Deh Gáh Got’ie First Nation earlier this month, the groups said they disagreed with Bonnetrouge’s statements, calling them irresponsible and saying they put at risk upcoming talks with the GNWT over the Community Opportunities and Involvement Agreement.
“The Deh Gah Bridge Ltd. management of the Opportunities Grant is well-received by the community. All members have access to information, and they are aware that their concerns can be expressed by contacting our office,” the release stated.
NNSL Media has reached out to the leadership of both groups and MLA Bonnetrouge for more details and is awaiting a response.