With the Tulita Land Corporation holding an election for three board members and a president, one candidate is claiming corruption.
Raymond Yakeleya, a beneficiary of the land corporation who now lives in Edmonton and candidate for the board of directors, says the corporation is rife with corruption and a lack of transparency.
“For 25 years the people in Tulita have control of the corporation and haven’t disclosed anything,” said Yakeleya.
Yakeleya claims out-of-town beneficiaries are not given up-to-date information on the dealings of the corporation. The majority of members of the corporation are living outside of the Tulita, he said.
Particularly, Yakeleya said there has been controversy around the purchase of Ram Head Outfitters, an adventure tourism outfitter in the Sahtu region. The outfitting company was purchased by the corporation in 2016.
“Our board of directors took $1.5 million out of the people’s fund and bought the company but didn’t bother to tell us,” he said.
Yakeleya said there should be public meetings and regular updates on issues such as this.
“We’ve always reminded them that this is not their money, this is the people’s money and if you’re going to go on a big expensive item, you have to bring it before the people and they make the decision.”
Yakeleya claims the community has become divided on the matter.
“There’s a lot of dissension going on right now and it’s putting a wedge between families,” he said.
He suggests a forensic audit should be carried out to ensure the trust has not been tampered with and the funds are being handled appropriately.
If elected to the board of directors, Yakaleya said he wants to clean house.
“This is not the Dene way,” said Yakeleya.
“This corporation should be for the people but they are not informed.”
Presidential candidate Douglas Yallee was contacted but did not want to speak about the issues before the election. Other candidates were contacted about the election but none responded by press time.
News/North contacted the Tulita Land Corporation office but a representative there refused to comment.
Four candidates are running for the position of president and 10 are running for the position of board of directors.
The election will be taking place on Sept. 30 with polls open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Hamlet Building Cultural Centre in Tulita.