Councillor disrupts finance meeting with false allegations

Disclosure: Nahnda Garlow is Editor of the Two Row Times and Chair of the Six Nations Cannabis Commission. She has recused herself from editing content regarding the Six Nations Cannabis Commission and did not participate in the editing of this story.

Six Nations of the Grand River Elected Councillor Helen Miller made allegations at Monday’s General Finance, saying she believed commission members were “double-dipping” in the honoraria they received.

Miller said, “you’re getting paid twice for the same work.”

In response, Garlow said in February that the SNGR Senior Administrative Officer approved honoraria for administrative work during the pandemic. Commissioners have been paid $40 per hour for any administrative work outside of normal meetings.

“Can you provide evidence that I’ve done something financially inappropriate?” Garlow asked the councillor.

The meeting grew heated after Miller said, “I don’t have to prove anything. You’re getting paid twice.”

Garlow addressed the allegations and said, “When it comes to my character and my actions as the chair, you absolutely must have the evidence to demonstrate that I’ve done something financially inappropriate.”

Garlow said the commission had no choice but to continue administrative work in absence of permanent staff members while Six Nations was in lockdown.

“We made that decision so the work of the commission could continue. We approached the SAO. We asked for approval. We got approval. We have submitted our invoices, outlining our work and when we went to meetings. It is reprehensible that a councillor, an elected official in this community, would come forward and make an allegation of someone that they have mandated to do administrative work to ensure that this industry comes into place.”

She added, “This is a distraction. This is disgusting, is what it is. I have not done anything financially inappropriate. Or acted outside of my role as chair. I would like an apology from Coun. Miller for those false allegations for continuing to spin the narrative in a negative direction, when it is your role to support the work of the commission, not to come against its members.”

Miller said she supports the work of the commission and denied making allegations.

“I’m not making allegations because it’s true what I’m saying. You’re getting paid twice for the same work. That’s true. That’s not an allegation.”

Garlow again refuted any wrongdoing and said, “That is not true. That is false information. If you continue to claim that in a public forum, I will take action against you.”

Coun. Miller replied, “I don’t care, sue me.”

At least one councillor said she did not believe there was any wrongdoing.

“I know this is a trying subject,” said Coun. Audrey Powless-Bomberry. “From my understanding, the commission members get paid an honorarium for doing two to three hours of work at a meeting.”

She said because there is no project manager, the work is still being done over and above their honoraria.

“I give credit to them for taking that slack and making that decision to do that extra work. They didn’t have to. It could’ve fallen apart a long time ago. They kept this commission together.”

Coun. Powless-Bomberry said through no fault of the commission, a project manager still needs to be hired.

“Until they get the project manager the work still has to be done. When the project manager gets in place, I believe that will solve the whole problem that’s here. To me it’s clear, there is no wrongdoing.”

The commission received $400,000 when it first started in spring 2019 to carry out a mandate of developing regulations for a Six Nations cannabis industry.

Garlow presented the commission’s budget and financials to the council’s finance committee Monday morning.

Garlow said a project manager needs to be hired which is a full-time job.

They had a successful candidate in September but the candidate turned down the role because they didn’t believe the $6,500 a month salary was sufficient.

“It was very disappointing because that person was extremely skilled and would’ve brought so much to the table and would’ve taken a lot of work off my shoulders. But we have to keep the work going.”

The commission is still looking to hire a project manager.

In the meantime, applications for production permits began rolling out last week, with a number of applicants so far.

Licenses to produce will be issued by March, council heard with the licenses for dispensaries coming as early as this spring. “Council’s policy decisions now allow cannabis from other First Nations to be sold on the territory if it passes testing requirements,” said Garlow.

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