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The community about 625 kilometres north of Winnipeg is looking at new ways to strengthen accountability and governance, said Christian Sinclair, the onekanew, or chief, of Opaskwayak First Nation, seen here on Nov. 7, 2017.

John Woods/The Canadian Press

Four people who worked in education services for a Manitoba First Nation have been charged with fraud totalling $450,000.

RCMP say they received a report of potential wrongdoing in 2018 and worked with the Opaskwayak Cree First Nation during a three-year investigation that included a forensic audit.

Police allege that between 2017 and 2018, the First Nation was defrauded by four employees of Opaskwayak Education Services.

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Mounties say three former staff who were in control of the financial department were charged last week. A warrant for a fourth former employee who lives out of province has been issued.

“We believe they used their positions of authority within the organization to purposefully commit fraud,” Cpl. Sheldon Martens said in a news release Thursday.

“By working together and through the use of a wide variety of financial trickery and deception, over $450,000 was siphoned.”

Funds are alleged to have been procured from various accounts and those actions concealed by disguising the money as loans, employment income and other various payments, said a news release from Opaskwayak.

The community about 625 kilometres north of Winnipeg is looking at new ways to strengthen accountability and governance, said Christian Sinclair, the onekanew, or chief, of Opaskwayak First Nation.

“These findings, as difficult as it has been, have exposed a silver lining,” Sinclair said. “It has become an opportunity and catalyst for strengthening our Cree traditions, customs and beliefs.”

Anita Ballantyne, 51, Marie (Christine) Campbell, 50, and Wilfred Harris, 59, have been arrested and are to appear in a court in The Pas, Man., on Aug. 11.

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Carmen Zolinski, 37, is wanted on the outstanding warrant.

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