Sheshatshiu parent fighting to protect trust fund

Jenny McCarthy
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Innu band councils seek to extract money for houses, sewage treatment

Happy Valley-Goose Bay — It’s a fund that was set up so that future generations could have a measure of financial security.

The money was supposed to be locked in for 70 years, and each child would receive an allocation on his or her 18th birthday.

Now, the band councils of Sheshatshiu and Natuashish want to dip into that fund and extract millions of dollars — money that can only be touched in an emergency.

Sources say the amount of the request is $25 million.

When Yvette Pastiwet — who lives in Sheshatshiu and is a parent and a member of the Innu Nation board of directors — heard about the proposal, she began a petition.

In two days she collected 288 signatures.

She said other parents aren’t happy about it either.

“They want to get into this money and we, as a people, have to speak for our children.”

After she started the petition, Pastiwet learned that her father, the late former chief Ben Michel, was instrumental in creating the trust fund.

That fuelled her motivation.

“I feel that my dad left a legacy for me to speak for the kids,” she said.

Sheshatshiu Chief Sebastien Benuen could not be reached for comment but he did address the issue on radio Thursday.

He said there’s a housing emergency, and the new sewage treatment facility being built is short of money and the contractors need to be paid.

“If there is a crisis, I haven’t heard about it,” Pastiwet said.

Natuashish Chief Simeon Tshakapesh confirmed the band is looking for money to finish houses that were supposed to be completed this year.

“We’ve got no money for houses. We’ve got about 76 people looking for houses,” he said.

“The federal government is not going to give us any capital to build the infrastructure.”

He said the community also needs a healing centre.

“We need to start sending people to treatment centres,” he said, adding he did not want to comment further.

The board of trustees will vote on the proposal today. Four of six appointed trustees will have to vote in favour of a motion to withdraw money from the fund in order for it to pass.

Two trustees were appointed by each band council and two by the Innu Nation.

Herman Montague, who lives in Sheshatshiu, feels there are other measures the government could be taking instead of dipping into the trust fund.

Some people question the government’s financial priorities.

Before Christmas, the band councils in both communities gave each resident $4,000. With a combined population of approximately 2,300 people, that’s $9.2 million —more than a third of what the bands are looking for now.

This week, Tshakapesh announced a plan to have WWE wrestlers brought to Natuashish. As well, four children and a chaperone are being flown to see wrestling in Toronto.

Geographic location: Sheshatshiu, Happy Valley, Goose Bay Toronto

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Recent comments

  • Mary Penunsi
    February 19, 2011 - 21:38

    In my opinion, They shouldn't be dipping their fingers in the money jar first of all because there are plenty of youth who are eventually gonna turn 18 & receive their trust fund money back in Sheshatshiu who are willing to make a difference in their lives by attending college/university,Buying your own home(BAND DOES NOT PAY ) JUST SO YOU KNOW!!!! continue on with life but doing crap all in Sheshatshiu. I'm pretty sure the youth don't want their money spent on houses & all. . Just saying, It's all ridiculous & just plain dumb what the Chief is trying to work out. . seriously, no one won't have enough of money & entertainment unless we have a lot of job opportunities... so it's enough. . Makes sense?

  • INNU iskeu sss
    February 05, 2011 - 15:40

    Alot has to be addressed to this situation, Innu people have really been spoiled ever since money have been coming in. The LEADERS just don`t know how to say no to their relatives and supporters and spending way too much. Being a leader to them seem tohave them set on never NO to their supporters. The business contractors they keep hiring, who I believe r expensive and slow in biulding the houses and besides that alot the houses have not been built right. I think it`s high time the Band Council start hiring their own people, alot of people have been trained in contruction works and alot of electiciens, but they r not hired right in their home towns but have to look elsewhere for employment. What were the training allowance, is it just for the BAND COUNCIL to look good because they send INNU people training. And alot of these people quit after awhile because they can not handle being away from their families for weeks at a time.

  • don
    February 05, 2011 - 08:59

    To's a quarter, call someone who cares.

  • natuashishsh woman
    February 04, 2011 - 18:50

    i think simeon tshakapesh is so right and ppl need houses and they need money so i think those people are jealous at him for being a cheif and i think the people should get over it and move on their lives and by the way the cheif is doing great gob to out community just keep up what you doing my cheif don't let those jeoulsy people put your down

  • Innuwoman
    February 04, 2011 - 17:09

    Our nation, Mushuau Innu and Sheshathiu Nation have been divided to two nations in each communities. We have both groups that are fighting for something that we both believe in... Our Leaders in Natuashish are firing their own staff for going around the petition to protect our future children. We have lost so many staff members already who believe in helping the community and our chief doesn't want to see that, he believes that money will solve everything in the community...I am ashamed...

  • redrantingtory
    February 04, 2011 - 11:02

    Free house, free money, free entertainment. Is this what a government is suppose to be doing for it's residents? Giving them $4000 in cash and free homes? Then asking if it can raid it's free money fund to pay for infrastructure. If this is what self government is for these people then make no wonder they are failing and will always fail. The last section on bring wrestling to the town and sending people out to see it at taxpayer expense just makes the story even more crazy. Must be nice to live without the stress of bills. Make no wonder these people are having so many problems. This story just shows the rest of Canada how screwed up this deal is and you wonder why others have such a dim view?

    • Phyllis Smith
      February 04, 2011 - 13:11

      "these people" Such a warm feeling you must have for humanity. No, but you go on. As a Tory, I'm sure you're not quite as worked up about $6 billion in corporate tax breaks.

  • Chris
    February 04, 2011 - 11:00

    If the government would fork over some cash to support their human right to shelter, maybe there wouldn't be such a conflict. This is exactly the process of colonial government control: take everything away from them, and give them just enough to fight over. While your at it force them to accept a hydro dam and low level flight training on THEIR land by promising them a pittance of cash.

    • U Mad
      February 04, 2011 - 14:36

      Give them just enough to fight over? The spent $9.2 million in Christmas bonues. Do you realize how many towns in Newfoundland never see that kind of money for capital works projects. They had far more than they needed it was wasted. They should be forced to deal with the consequences. No easy way outs. The kids didn't mismanage it.

    • Nathan
      February 04, 2011 - 17:54

      Yeah, that's some "pittance" of cash... they're really receiving the short end of the stick on all this... Poor things. $526k + some change for each house, and they already own the land... That's some "shelter," does it come with a 2011 Corvette too???

    • Sarah
      February 05, 2011 - 23:25

      This is for Chris..."if the government would fork over some cash..." where did just about everything in your communities come from? Did you get mortgages? Do you pay rent to anyone for the houses on reserve? Get your nose out of the feed bucket and take some resonsibility. Does every funeral need two or three charters and every wedding need to be paid for by Band Council or Innu Nation? Stop wasting what you do have before you start whining for more.

    • kanakatuapatshis
      February 06, 2011 - 09:15

      There are 2 things I will never understand of our now innu leaders (chiefs) the first thing when they wanted to be voted in, they make promises,in which they will never fulfilled like most politicians never do. They stressed to people that of the desperation they put themselves in. We all know when muskrat falls begins whose going to be rich, its certainly not the community but the hungry wolves out there meaning the ex-leaders. And the other thing, I like to say to all the non-native people, the government will never be able to pay the aboriginal people for what they take from them.; Not even those millions and millions of dollars, They can try, but it will never be the same. Its like stripping a aboriginal clothing, taking everything what he had.hey will have a corruption in their leadership,but to me, that's where they are heading, and continually doing the things they said they will not do. In all history,this will be the first time that leaders will show their people how corrupted, low self esteem, shame they will ever show to their people. because

  • innu member
    February 04, 2011 - 10:45

    it make me sick how the so called leaders would go so low just to cover there butt because of there out of control spending. where is the money they had past two years in the special projects they had 50 or 60 million for housing. they only built about 60 houses so you telling me that it cost a million dollers a home. thats a bunch of bull. its just too crazy the amount of corruption in sss. business/money has took over over community for the worst.

  • CS
    February 04, 2011 - 10:12

    What a total waste of money!!!!!

  • M
    February 04, 2011 - 09:56

    I typically enjoy reading the news, but I honestly regret ever reading the last few lines of that story.