Haisla Nation Council (HNC) recently held Audit Meeting for Haisla Members in Kitamaat, Terrace, Prince Rupert, Nanaimo, and Vancouver. The meetings were well attended and some good questions were asked by members. We wanted to provide a summary of the main questions asked for those unable to attend.
Q – Is Haisla Nation Council being accountable, transparent and responsible with the operations and Haisla funds?
A – Yes, HNC is being very accountable, transparent and responsible with the operations and funding of HNC. Operations are better than ever before. There has been a decrease in nepotism, favoritism, bullying, micromanagement and controls have been put in place regarding any concerning financial activity. For every major decision HNC has hosted membership meetings to hear any questions or comments on projects and initiatives we are working on. Annually we host the Audit meetings as well as conduct project updates, providing answers when requested.
BDO has been the independent auditor for more than 15 years and has reported in the same manner every year. This independent assessment of HNC has improved year after year.
Both CIBC and RBC hold HNC investments. They are independent of HNC and they both provided their own presentations of HNC investments, and these presentations are objective and not influenced by HNC. Both investment portfolios have had very good growth showing HNC is doing extremely well financially.
Q – What is happening with those funds held in minor’s trust?
A – Minor’s Trust updates from CIBC have been occurring since 2013 and are timed to be delivered along with the Audit presentations to allow membership to get a clear and objective update directly from the bank. These funds have been gaining investment income and are distributed once a year in February, the year after the member turns 18
years of age.
Q – Why are there no Own Source Revenue (OSR) Policies developed?
A – There have been many policies developed over the past few years regarding OSR. Examples: Per Capita Distribution Policy, Cost of Living Adjustment Policy, Haisla Nation LNGC Capacity Development Policy, Youth Sports Fund, Haisla Elders Assistant Program, Honor Roll, and Academic achievement. We also use funds for Patient Travel Top up, Bereavement Fund, Youth and Elders programs, Fire Department, Rec Centre, and many other programs and services.
Other funds have been invested and are being used with very high consideration of the Nation’s best interest. We are also in the middle of developing a Trust that would ensure further protection to members’ money of which we will be looking for member input when there is more to review.
HNC is still in a very strong financial position.
Q – What are targeted OSR funds?
A – Some funds received from proponents are targeted funds to be spent on certain initiatives like capacity, education and training dollars. The tax dollars we receive from Bees Reserve are targeted to be used for community services on-reserve. The RTA Legacy Trust also have specified purposes they are to be used for, and those were described in detail by RBC at the audit meeting. There are also targeted funds for environmental uses. Given that these funds are targeted, HNC has to utilize these funds for these purposes.
Q – A loan over $3m for the Condo project on Haisla Centre.
A – A line a credit was used to fund part of the Condo Project on the Haisla Centre (Old Hospital Land site in District of Kitimat). The interest on this line of credit is less than the interest HNC currently receives on its investments. So, rather than invest cash the line of credit was used by Beechwood Apartments that will operate the condo. This is financially better for Haisla. We did have a legal and financial opinion on this matter.
Sections 2 and 4, read together, say the By-law applies to any corporation or partnership that is controlled by Haisla Nation and receives Haisla Nation funds. If the Haisla entity in question either is not “controlled by the Haisla Nation” or is not “in receipt of Haisla Nation funds” then the By-law does not apply to it.
Q – What is the KLNG Taxation Bridging Agreement?
A – The KLNG Taxation Agreement was an interim agreement while the taxes on Bees are being appealed and HNC has not agreed to amend the original agreement yet. HNC plans to inform the membership of the possible changes to this agreement on the dates listed below.
The Haisla Nation membership voted with an overwhelming 93% in favor LNG development in the area. The LNG industry has had a severe decline in the past few years and Final Investment Decisions has been delayed and projects cancelled. Our agreement with KLNG has been amended to increase the opportunity for success, because without an FID there is no future benefit to the Haisla. The agreement does not reduce benefits to the Haisla but does increase chances of successful FID. This will be signed after community information sessions that are set to occur:
Monday, November 28 6pm – Vancouver – Hilton Metro Town
Wednesday, November 30 6pm – Kitamaat Village – HNC large board room
Thursday, December 1 6pm – Terrace – Best Western
Sunday, December 4 6pm – Prince Rupert – The Crest
Saturday December 10 2pm – Nanaimo – Coast Hotel
Q – Council does not have decision making ability for Haisla.
A – Elected Chief and Council of the Haisla Nation Council do have a fiduciary responsibility to make decisions in the best interest of the Haisla membership and the administration also have decision making rights. As mentioned above when there are major decisions and agreements there have been membership meetings called to inform people regarding those issues/initiatives.
Q – What are Council Salaries/Expenses?
A – Council salaries and expenses are listed in the audit and are public knowledge to the membership. The presentation of these expenses has been the same since 2005, so every council member’s salary and travel cost has been identified the same way.
This is monitored more closely than ever before. Council travel is reimbursed whenever possible by other organizations, and we have been using technology to conduct meetings through video conferencing which has reduced travel expenses compared to previous councils.
Years ago, there was a wage scale for paying full time councillors that was not formally adopted nor followed consistently. HNC hired an independent 3rd party to review the salaries in 2014 that showed salaries that were in line with other bands of HNC’s size, generating similar revenue, as well as a description of duties for Council Committee Chairs.
Q – Why are consultants, professionals and contractors costs so high?
A – HNC has used consultants and lawyers to generate the wealth that the nation currently enjoys. We have reduced the use of these expenses by over 50% compared to when a larger number of our agreements were being negotiated. We still need professionals to work on agreements now, lawyers to ensure we are protecting Haisla interests, environmental and regulatory professionals to protect Haisla territory. Professional costs are always being evaluated to ensure we are getting the best value.
HNC is very open to the membership and always looks to have input from members to improve our operations. For a government, HNC is developing very quickly and will continue to do its best to serve the membership in the most effective way possible. We thank all those who attend the meetings to be informed and ask questions.
Haisla Nation Council