B.C. chief’s pay and expenses nears $1 million

B.C. chief's pay and expenses nears $1 million: online documents

  • Jul. 31, 2014 7:00 a.m.

By Keven Drews, The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER – Newly posted documents show a dramatic disparity in the salaries and travel expenses paid to a handful of Canada’s First Nations chiefs, ranging from thousands of dollars to almost $1 million.

Following the passage of a financial-transparency law by the federal government in 2013, First Nations are now required to publish audited financial statements of salaries and expenses online within 120 days of the end of the financial year ending March 31, 2014.

As of Thursday, many links to the data on the Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada website still read “not yet posted.”

But Metro Vancouver’s Kwikwetlem First Nation has published, and the website shows that economic development officer and Chief Ron Giesbrecht was paid $914,219 in remunerations and $16,574 in expenses for the financial year ending March 31, 2014.

Remunerations are defined in the document as salaries, wages, commissions, bonuses, honorarium, dividends and any other benefits, other than reimbursements, and non-monetary benefits. Expenses are defined as the costs of transportation, accommodation, meals, hospitality and incidentals.

A person answering the phone at band’s office had promised a statement, then later said there would be no comment at this time.

Still, the band states on its website that it is creating an environment that promotes a higher quality of life.

“We are committed to transparency, responsibility, financial accountability, social, health, education, and economic development,” the website states.

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada reports the Kwikwetlem band has a registered population of 37 and 33 people living on the reserve.

Earlier this month, the Kwikwetlem claimed title to all lands associated with now-closed Riverview Hospital in Metro Vancouver and other areas of its traditional territory, citing the recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling in Tsilhqot’in v. British Columbia.

The O’Chiese First Nation of Rocky Mountain House, Alta., reported Chief Darren Whitford received remunerations of $164,453 and travel and meeting expenses of $100,778. The First Nation’s six councillors reported remunerations starting at just over $102,261 and expenses starting at $27,433.

The band’s total population reported by Statistics Canada in the 2006 census was 450.

The Taku River Tlingit First Nation in the northwestern, B.C., community of Atlin also published a document showing a salary of $72,800 to band spokesman John Ward and travel expenses $6,400.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation expressed “jubilation” over the publication, and noted more and more information would be available over the coming weeks as the federal government scans and posts the documents.

“When we first called for the disclosure of chief and council pay information back in 2009 a lot of people told us Ottawa wouldn’t touch the matter,” said federation spokesman Colin Craig in a news release. “But we mobilized people on and off reserve to tell Ottawa to make legislative changes so that the government could start posting the details publicly. Kudos to the Harper government for listening.”

He said many aboriginal people have been bullied or harassed for asking for the basic information in the past.

In March 2013, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt and others tried to speak in Winnipeg on the First Nations Financial Transparency Act but were interrupted by protesters who opposed the law.

Protester Pam Palmater of the Idle No More movement said at the time she opposed the law because the financial information is already transparent.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

PHOTOS: What summer 2020 is like in Revelstoke

Contributors submit their favourite photos from this summer

Celebrate wildflowers next week in Revelstoke

Tourism Revelstoke is hosting a wildflower festival with various activities Aug. 9-16

Body of 21-year-old man found in Okanagan Lake

BC Coroners Service is investigating the circumstances of the man’s death

LETTER: Revelstoke does not need proposed Hay Rd. development

The development calls for 60 housing units

Which streets in Revelstoke have the most crashes?

The data was recently released by ICBC

B.C. doctors, dentists call on province for mandatory mask rule

Open letter says masks should be worn in indoor public spaces, public transportation or in crowds

Merritt man arrested after allegedly touching children inappropriately

Skylar Mcleod, 24, is facing six charges, including one for sexual interference

Dwindling B.C. bamboo supply leaves Calgary Zoo biologists worried about pandas

Zoo has been trying to send pandas back to China since May

Alberta man’s body recovered from Okanagan Lake after five-day search

‘The depth of the water, as well as the topography of the lake, made the recovery of the deceased very challenging’ - RCMP

Facebook launches its new TikTok clone, Instagram Reels

Facebook has a long tradition of cloning competitive services

Masks urged for some students returning to Vernon schools

Phase two sees students return full-time Sept. 8

B.C. Appeal Court prevents Victoria woman from using the term ‘death midwife’ in her job

Pashta MaryMoon claimed she had been providing “death-care services” for more than 40 years

Water draws Okanagan artists together for exhibit

Gallery Vertigo open house Saturday for Spirit of Water

Most Read