Shibogama questions tribal council funding cuts
Shibogama First Nations Council executive director Margaret Kenequanash is questioning Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada’s plans to cut tribal council funding for band advisory services.
“They’re saying they want to improve efficiency and delivery at the community level,” Kenequanash said. “Are they going to be increasing those funds for the communities? There are a number of questions that still have to be answered.”
AANDC Minister John Duncan announced in a Sept. 4 statement that the ministry will be shifting the focus of funding for tribal councils and band advisory services away from the requirement to deliver specific advisory services, in order to ensure that resources are directed toward the more efficient and effective delivery of essential programs and services.
“In terms of the different level of services that we are providing, there has to be replacement of that,” Kenequanash said. “Who’s going to be covering those costs? It looks like now the communities are expected to be paying for those services. I don’t think the communities have those kind of dollars to provide the same level of services at the community level.”
Kenequanash said if the communities have to use consultants to provide advisory services, it will be “very costly.”
Duncan’s statement said tribal councils will no longer be required to deliver the five specific advisory services required under the existing funding formula, but tribal councils may continue to provide advisory services if mandated by their members, provided that the requirements of the program have been satisfied.
Meanwhile, the Aboriginal Financial Officers' Association announced that they do not provide advisory services as stated in Duncan’s statement.
“AFOA Canada and its chapters are very clear on its mandate of providing financial and management training to individuals to assist in the capacity development for Aboriginal communities and organizations,” said Terry Goodtrack, president and CEO of AFOA Canada. “AFOA is not in the business of providing financial advisory services at any level and have built a solid reputation on training and certification programs for financial managers and professional administrators.”
One of the other two organizations specified in Duncan’s statement, the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board also does not provide advisory services for First Nation communities.
The National Aboriginal Economic Development Board was established in 1990 to provide strategic policy and program advice to the federal government on Aboriginal economic development.
National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo said severe cuts to First Nation organizations are the wrong move, particularly in light of key commitments across the country and specifically by this federal government to work toward reconciliation.
“These funding reductions have the potential to create very serious negative impacts for First Nation families and in turn the broader community and all Canadians,” Atleo said. “First Nation organizations and tribal councils are major employers and provide key support and capacity to First Nations for the whole range of socio-economic services, planning and development.”
Atleo said First Nation leadership has been very clear that critical services to First Nation peoples must not be impacted by budget cuts.
“First Nations demand an end to unilateral decisions that impact our people, urging a full and concrete commitment by government to implement First Nation rights and responsibilities as necessary to advance self-determination and self-reliance,” Atleo said.
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