The trial of a Mosquito First Nation man of accused defrauding his band of over $120,000 wrapped at Court of Queen’s Bench in Saskatoon yesterday.
Gerald Bird is charged with forgery, fraud and criminal breach of trust – all over $5,000.
Crown prosecutor Robin Ritter says Bird broke the trust of his First Nation by using treaty land entitlement money for personal gain.
“Because the whole treaty land entitlement process was designed for the future, to make right wrongs that had occurred in the past and it was for the grandchildren of the grandchildren to extend a long time into the future and to extend economic viability and a land base and when the money was misspent, the money is gone, it will never be here, they’ll never have the economic land base in the future that the people should have,” he says.
Nevertheless, defence lawyer Kathy Hodgins-Smith says in spite of the fact that $1.7 million was withdrawn from Mosquito Lake’s TLE fund in 2002 and only $343,000 was spent on actual land purchases, Bird himself did not do anything wrong and was only following the general guidelines of the TLE process.
“I don’t know if I would agree that it’s a lot of money and not very much land, I would say it was a huge obligation owed to First Nations to try and amend historic errors were land was not provided,” she says. “And was this the best mechanism, my guess is time will tell whether that was the right way to go about addressing that historic wrong.”
Justice Scherman will render a decision on the case on Sept. 23.