Saskatchewan First Nation leads on accountability

Blog, Aboriginal Futures, Joseph Quesnel

Darcy Bear, chief of Whitecap Dakota First Nation, a small band south of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, has thrown his support behind the First Nations Financial Transparency Act, the proposed legislation that would require disclosure of chief and councillor salaries.

Part of the reason is Whitecap is leading on accountability and does not apparently fear disclosure.

Bear says his band government regularly files audited financial statements, which are shared with all band members.

Central to the Whitecap strategy is the belief that financial accountability and disclosure is key to attracting outside investors to the community.

The results? Whitecap posts a four percent unemployment rate, which is much better than most other First Nation communities.

On chief and councillor salaries, the chief says the power to set them is taken off the reserve and is set by an independent commission.

Clearly, this is a First Nation that is worthy of being modeled. It should also be mentioned that Whitecap has chosen to opt into the First Nations Land Management (FNLMA), a legislative framework that allows the band to opt out of the land management provisions of the Indian Act.

A study a few years ago by KPMG, an accounting firm, found that bands under the FNLMA do much better economically than bands still solely under the Indian Act.