OTTAWA – Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence’s romantic partner, Clayton Kennedy — once in charge of the troubled northern Ontario reserve’s books — has had his own money problems in the past, documents show.
Public records show Kennedy declared bankruptcy just five years before he became the band’s money man. He declared debts of $24,380 and assets of $2,403 in his September 1996 bankruptcy filing.
Kennedy’s past money problems come to light as Attawapiskat and Spence face questions over a scathing audit of the band’s books that found a missing paper trail for millions of dollars between 2005 and 2011.
Part of the period covered by the Deloitte audit overlaps with Kennedy’s second tenure as the band’s co-manager.
Between 2001 and 2004, Kennedy was the band’s director of finance, co-manager and band manager. He returned as the band’s co-manager and director of finance in July 2010 before leaving the job last summer.
Kennedy refused to speak about the bankruptcy when contacted by The Canadian Press.
“The matter you are referencing to is a personal matter unrelated to the leaked Deloitte audit report. As such the Deloitte audit report has been responded to already,” he said in an email.
“The issue I am dealing with is the health of Chief Spence and children. Please respect that.”
He did not respond to questions in a follow-up email or a call to his Ottawa hotel room, where he has been staying as Spence continues her protest, subsisting on fish broth and medicinal tea on an island in the Ottawa River.
An unidentified man who answered a call to Kennedy’s hotel room said he was not there.
The one-page summary available through the website of the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada provides no further details about the nature of Kennedy’s financial issues.
However, Kennedy defended the band’s accounting practices in an interview this week with the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network.
“If everyone is so concerned about the lack of documentation, then fine, come back, start contacting the suppliers, go through the banks, get into it in a little more detail because I don’t think you’ll find any misappropriation of funds,” he told APTN.
Kennedy has an accounting background that stretches back 40 years.
He completed four of the five necessary levels of training to be a certified general accountant between 1973 and 1979, according to an affidavit he swore after Spence declared a state of emergency over a housing shortage in Attawapiskat.
Kennedy went to work as an accountant in 1979, managing the George Jeffrey Children’s Centre in Thunder Bay, Ont., for about 15 years, the court document says.
According to the affidavit, he also holds a two-year certificate in health-care administration from Ottawa-based Certified Health Services Executives, which he says he completed around 1997.
He says he has worked for several other First Nations in the areas of finance, project management and administration since 2000.
Corporate documents show Kennedy incorporated a business called Moo Shum Enterprises in October 2003 — roughly two years after he first started working in Attawapiskat.
In his affidavit, Kennedy said the company provides “expertise and advice primarily in the areas of finance and management.”
He left Attawapiskat in 2004. But in July 2009, the band was looking for a new co-manager. The job was advertised in newspapers in the Ontario communities of Thunder Bay, Sudbury and Timmins, according to a document on the band’s website.
The band says it received five applications. Kennedy’s company was shortlisted, but council ultimately gave the job to another big accounting firm, BDO Dunwoody. That deal lasted less than a year. Under a tight, Aboriginal Affairs-imposed deadline to find a new co-manager, the band council once again looked to Kennedy. He returned to work in Attawapiskat in July 2010.
The band issued a news release in late 2011 saying Spence was not in any of the meetings where council talked about bringing Kennedy back to Attawapiskat.
The contract between Kennedy’s company and the band shows he earned $850 a day. He told APTN that is well below the going rate.