Cowichan Tribes reveals salaries

Cowichan Tribes shared this week that Chief William C. Seymour, who serves as chief as well as councillor and in other executive positions, earns a total of $93,906.42.

That includes $44,427.28 in salary, $41,003.78 in honoraria, $4,082.31 in other remuneration and $4,393.05 in travel expenses.

Seymour released a statement Monday in response to some media reports that Cowichan Tribes had not complied with a new federal requirement for Canadian First Nations to report salaries of their chiefs and councils.

"Our auditor stated that chief and council were on time completing the financial statements and chief and council signed them on July 29, 2014. In communication to Kim Dibb, Finance Comptroller, our auditor added the statements could not be released to Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada on the same date because two third-party confirmations had not been received by that date."

The information is now available on the First Nations Transparency Act website but this sharing of figures is not new, according to Seymour.

"Cowichan Tribes has always communicated its finances to membership. Originally, hard copies were provided to Cowichan Tribes membership and now it is open to everyone electronically. It is important to note that the last annual general meeting hosted by Cowichan Tribes disclosed the salaries of chief and council to membership."

Both the remuneration schedule and the consolidated financial statements are available through federal website http://pse5-esd5.

Both items are dated March 31, 2014.

"Our auditors performed their work from the final week of May to first week of June. Because the auditors have to consolidate the accounting information from numerous entities, then wait for third-party confirmations, the process was not finalized until Aug. 6 of this year," Seymour said.

The First Nations Transparency Act "created some adjustments this year that didn’t necessarily contribute to a delay, but altered the standard previously installed without changing the deadline. This is also the first year we are required to post this information on the website," he said.

"It’s of high importance for Cowichan Tribes to be upfront with membership about our finances and the implementation of the act hasn’t Cowichan practices and our policies remain the same-Cowichan Tribes leadership wants citizens of the Cowichan Valley to know that," Seymour noted.

However, regardless of the challenges in the 2013-2014 audit, "there are no impacts to Cowichan Tribes in terms of compliance with funding contracts," he said, adding, "Cowichan Tribes has an excellent relationship with Aboriginal Affairs.

According to the Transparency Act website, Stz’minus’ Chief John Elliott earns $87,650 plus $16,518 in expenses; Malahat Chief Michael Harry earns $61,789 plus $24,370 in expenses;

Lyackson Chief Richard Thomas earns $68,296 plus $2,601 in expenses; and Penelakut Chief Earl Jack earns $45,888 plus $4,925 in expenses.

According to the website, figures had not yet been posted for the Lake Cowichan, Halalt and Ditidaht First Nations.