Chief's Report to the Membership
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Chief's Report- August 10.pdf
August 10, 2011
Dear Band Members,
On behalf of the Government of the Beardy’s & Okemasis First nation, I would like to thank all of you for the respect and patience you have demonstrated throughout these last few months. Educating ourselves within our areas of responsibility and the finances of our First Nation was our first priority as we began our term; we then set about governing our First Nation- as you elected us to do.
On May 18
, we met with officials from the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AAND- formerly INAC) regarding our road conditions. We advised AAND that we are very concerened for the health and safety of our membership as we rely on our roads for critical services such as school bussing, water distribution, garbage pick-up, sewage removal, and emergency vehicle access. Not only was this evident in our report, but we also noted that our vehicles pay a heavy burden and maintaining them places significant strain on all of our already stretched finances.
The proposal that we submitted to AAND was completed by SAL Engineering Ltd, a professional Engineering firm headquartered in Saskatoon. Through their excellent work, AAND approved our proposal and our Executive is pleased to announce that these projects totalling approximately $3M for road repair and flooding projects will begin immediately in September, 2011. The leadership will ensure that all funds will be allocated to the confirmed projects.
In addition to that, Chief & Council have been very busy with several projects specifically: Oil & Gas through NARP, Potash Bands, BHP Biliton and the building of the largest potash mine in the world, “Jansen Mine Projects” near our TLE lands. As a result, our First Nation and other First Nations from the Touchwood Agnecy Tribal Council and Vice Chief Dutch Lerat of the FSIN have been engaged in discussions with the Saskatchewan Minister of Energy & Resources, Mr. Bill Boyd, the SK Minister of First Nations & Metis Relations, Mr. Ken Cheveldayoff, and the SK Minister for the Environment, Mr. Dustin Duncan in Regina to discuss an extension on the deadline to provide comments regarding BHP’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
Another subject we have been educating ourselves on is “Specific Claims”. We have been communicating with Band lawyer, Mr. Ron Maurice and met with him on May 18
, 2011. He gave us an update regarding the status of the Beardy’s & Okemasis Specific Claims’ Unlawful Termination of Treaty Annuities, Treaty 6 Agricultural Assistance, and Flooding Claim (unauthorized construction of a draining ditch in 1904). We invited Ron Maurice to come to our General Band Meeting to further discuss these Specific Claims to the membership. He has confirmed his attendance.
We have also been working on the process of applying for the First Nation Oil & Gas Money Management Act (FNOGMMA ) Trust Account. Further details will be provided at our General Band Meeting.
In April, we attended a financial management workshop in Saskatoon which was organized and funded by AAND. We subsequently met with Mr. John Michael, a Band member who is very interested in helping our Band get back into a good financial management standing. Mr. Michael was the Auditor General for INAC and retired from this position a few years ago. He brings with him a great deal of educational and financial knowledge. On a volunteer basis, Mr. Michael conducted a presentation to Chief & Council to work towards an effective management structure. His presentation focused on governmental systems and structure.
Over the past few months, we have worked extra hard to reduce our accumulated deficit- cutting travel for Chief & Council and Band staff (on a temporary basis), cancelling all boards and committees (except for Corporate boards), cutting training and development funding, short-term contracts, and the salaries from the Midget “AA” and “AAA” coaching staff are all just some of the measures we have completed. At present, we are in the process of consolidating all outstanding payables and loans and obtaining funds from a financial institution. Please keep in mind that at this point, there is no commitment yet from any institution- if we do not find a committed lender, we will have no choice, but to again revise the Remedial Management Plan.
On August 10
, Chief & Council met with our auditors so they could explain to us the Band’s 2010/2011 Audit. According to the report, our band is sitting at a $9M deficit. Accordingly, more remedial cut backs will be necessary. A special meeting with Chief & Council and Program Directors took place August 11
to further discuss our financial position and the measures we must take. The Band’s 2010/2011 Audit will be available for the membership on September 5
and questions and discussion will occur at the General Band Meeting on September 12
I am still very confident that together we can overcome this financial burden. It is going to take a tremendous amount of commitment and patience from all of us. We are very fortunate to have an excellent financial team who have been working collaboratively with the Executive, Program Directors, and Band staff to take steps toward our financial recovery.
As your Chief, I recognize the importance of working cooperatively with all Councillors, Senators, Directors, Employees and the Band membership in an honest, straightforward, and positive approach. By working together through mutual respect, we can create a better financial future for our children, our youth, our families, and our community. I ask you to support us as we work to rectify our financial situation as it may take 9 years or longer.
In closing, I would like to invite the entire membership to our General Band Meeting on September 12
, 2011 beginning at 9:30am at the Rec Centre. I look forward to seeing you at our Band meeting and I am confident that with your guidance, confidence, trust, and understanding, our community can and will achieve positive things together!
Chief of the Beardy’s & Okemasis First Nation