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MNP audit reveals questionable spending on Clearwater River Dene First Nation PDF Print E-mail
Written by Manfred Joehnck   
Wednesday, 24 May 2017 10:40

Photo courtesy of MNP.ca

A forensic audit of the Clearwater River Dene First Nation near La Loche has uncovered questionable spending in the millions of dollars over a six-year period from 2009 to 2014.

The audit was conducted by MNP Chartered Accountants.

The focus of the report was the band’s former manager, Jonny Cheecham. He received about $900,000 in compensation during the six-year period.

The audit found that he also owned, or had influence over nine companies, which supplied $9 million in services to the band over the six-year period.

The MNP report concludes Cheecham breached the band’s code of ethics, was in a conflict of interest, used band finances for the sale of motor vehicles, double or triple billed some contracts, or billed for service that was never done.

The report has been turned over to the band and council. Chief Teddy Clark says he is studying it, and will likely be in a position to respond tomorrow.

The forensic audit has also been discussed with the RCMP, although there is no word on whether an investigation will be launched.

No charges have been laid, and none of the allegations have been proven in court.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 May 2017 10:50
Northern students to receive degrees PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dean Bear   
Tuesday, 23 May 2017 13:32

Northlands College. Photo courtesy saskatchewan.ca

It will be the largest graduating class in the history of Northlands College, as 19 students will receive degrees from the University of Saskatchewan and University of Regina during convocation exercises this evening in La Ronge.

Students from communities across the north were enrolled in programs, such as arts and science, nursing, business administration and social work.

It’s the first time that graduating university students will be together for their convocation, as the college offers the programs at campuses in Creighton, Buffalo Narrows and La Ronge.

Karla Hardcastle is the manager of university programming for Northlands College, and says the number of students graduating shows that the college’s programming is growing out of its infancy.

"Larger numbers of students are completing programs from year-to-year, and we are proud of our students who have persevered for the last three to five years to finish their university degrees," she added.

Hardcastle says that by providing programs for northern students, it means less travel to the main campuses in Saskatoon and Regina. In some cases, students with young families don’t have to uproot and move further south or be disconnected during the school year.

"It’s a point of pride for us that we have been able to offer so many different university programs to students in northern Saskatchewan and give them the option to learn where they live," she said. "So many students over the last 20 years that we have worked with, have said they could have never done this program because they couldn't move, or didn't want to move to go to university."

She says in some cases, some students started out taking classes down south and were able to finish at home. She says that being able to offer a variety of university programs means it doesn’t have to be a one size fits all approach to post-secondary schooling for students in northern Saskatchewan.

Hardcastle says that at the end of the day, the degrees come from the University of Regina and University of Saskatchewan, but they get to have a personal experience close to home, and that’s a partnership the college is very proud of.

The convocation exercises take place tonight at 6:00 pm at Eagle Point Resort.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 May 2017 13:48
Weyakwin man sentenced for domestic attempted murder PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chelsea Laskowski   
Tuesday, 23 May 2017 12:25

Prince Albert Provincial Court. Photo by Chelsea Laskowski.

A Weyakwin man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for a domestic attempted murder that left a woman blind in one eye.

This comes two months after Judge S.D. Schiefner weighed trial evidence related to Matthew Warren Lavallee and found him guilty of attempted murder of his former common-law spouse.

At trial it was found that Lavallee, 27, had caught the woman - who is the mother of his two children - in bed with another man, and proceeded to very deliberately slash her throat and stab her a total of 14 times. Trial evidence showed he stopped only when he heard someone banging on the doors of the house.

This all took place in February of 2016, in the same Weyakwin home where one of the former couple’s kids was staying.

At Lavallee’s Tuesday sentencing, Schiefner reiterated directly to Lavallee that he determined there had been an intent to kill, and it was only by good fortune and medical care the victim is alive. She still has limited functioning in one arm due to deep a ligature cut and has no vision in one eye.

Schiefner acknowledged Lavallee’s trial testimony that he was “shocked, horrified” by what he encountered the night of the offence, despite having little memory of the stabbing. Regardless, the judge said denunciation and deterrence in relation to domestic attacks are key factors in his sentence.

Throughout sentencing arguments, Lavallee's father Warren Lavallee and mother Yvonne Cachane sat in the gallery, occasionally crying, each of them with an arm around Lavallee’s back. He has been out on bail for all but around 20 days since being charged, and was taken into custody again on Tuesday.

Both parents stood to make comments about their own upbringing, parenting, past alcoholism and journey to sobriety, and about Matthew’s close relationship with his children, which has been impacted by his criminal proceedings.

Warren pointed to the events leading to the offence, saying “someone else violates your family, I don’t think that’s right” and makes a person feel less of a man, while defence lawyer Pab Chetty repeatedly said Matthew had "become unhinged" in the following moments. A pre-sentence report found a high score related to concerns of his risk to reoffend against a future partner.

“Have mercy on him,” Warren said, and Cachane said “I am pleading for leniency.”

Lavallee stood as well, saying he is “truly and deeply sorry” for his acts and “I am filled with regret every day.” He said he cannot imagine the pain he cause to a woman who has been one of the most important people in his life, and “this will haunt me for the rest of my life.”

The Crown was asking for 15 years, and defence's request was simply that attempted murder should surely not get a more serious sentence than manslaughter.

Schiefner cited a number of similarities between Lavallee's case and a precedent-setting domestic attempted murder in Nova Scotia, which did net 15 years for the offender.

After considering and accepting one key factor – remorse – Schiefner delivered a sentence five years shorter than that.

After what Schiefner called a "trying case," his final words were "say goodbye to your parents, you are now going into custody,” before Lavallee and his parents embraced in a bear hug for a number of heavily emotional moments.

Outside court, Lavallee's mother and father declined comment.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 May 2017 14:24
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