Concerns About FNUC Finances Will Be Reviewed

Monday, December 07, 2009 at 12:10



Concerns raised by a senior First Nations University of Canada’s financial official who left the institution this past week will be reviewed by an external auditor.


Clarence Bellegarde, chief of the Little Black Bear First Nation and chair of the university’s board of governors, confirms that FNUC’s board of governors decided this morning to have outside people conduct a review.


Bellegarde says the audit committee met yesterday, and then made that recommendation.


“Right now, the board has charged the audit committee to deal with it, so there will be a selection of an external auditor very, very soon, and we would do a terms of reference and commence his work before Christmas,” he says.


Bellegarde says the audit committee has been looking into concerns raised by former FNUC financial official Murray Westerlund, regarding breaches in policy and issues around travel and holiday pay.


He says there has been a response from FNUC senior management, refuting those concerns.


Bellegarde also notes that the university is late on one reporting item to Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, which is witholding funding from the school as a result.


However, he is confident the missing item will be addressed on Dec. 21, and believes the university will get all of its funding for this school year.


Meanwhile, the chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations is waiting for more information about Westerlund’s departure last week.


Sources told MBC that Westerlund was fired as the university’s chief financial officer, while the school’s president maintains it was a mutually agreed upon decision that Westerlund leave, and that Westerlund was a consultant, not an employee.


Chief Guy Lonechild says he doesn’t have enough information yet to determine what happened, but has requested information regarding governance policies and financial procedures.


“Over the next few days, we’re going to be waiting for some of the information that’s requested from both the audit committee and of course from our working group that has been struck between (Saskatchewan’s Ministry of) Advanced Education, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada and ourselves at the FSIN. And so, in the next few days, we’ll have more details,” Lonechild says.


Lonechild says it’s important to ensure procedures are consistent with viewpoints of the financial community.


He is aware that Westerlund raised concerns before leaving the university.