No million-dollar paydays for local chiefs

The salaries of First Nations chiefs and councils across Canada, recently revealed on a website due to a new federal transparency requirement, have raised some eyebrows.

In particular, Chief Ron Giesbrecht of British Columbia’s Kwikwetlem First Nation being paid nearly $1 million, a figure that included a bonus of $800,000, has led to calls for his resignation.

The Kwikwetlem band has just 81 members.

But the salaries of the chief and council at Cowichan Tribes and our other local First Nations are pretty ho hum, all things considered.

And the numbers for Cowichan Tribes should come as no surprise to members of the First Nation.

As Chief William C. Seymour noted in a news release earlier this week remuneration for the band’s leaders has long been available to band members.

Seymour takes home just shy of $94,000, which includes salaries and remuneration for his position as chief as well as other executive positions he holds.

With Cowichan the largest single First Nation in British Columbia with over 4,600 members this doesn’t seem like a sum that’s out of line with his job descriptions. And he, as might be expected, is the highest paid of our local chiefs.

It’s a far cry from $1 million. Compared to senior staff at the Cowichan Valley Regional District who often pocket over $100,000 a year it’s a pretty good bargain.

There’s certainly no need to be calling for anyone’s head.

There has also been some controversy about whether or not First Nations should have to publicly report this information.

Some have even talked about refusing to do so, which would endanger their federal funding.

On the whole, we think the public reporting is a good thing. Taxpayers should be able to find out where their money is going.

There is too much secrecy in our senior levels of government as it is. Transparency and accountability are too often things we have to fight for.

We can easily look up online what our municipal officials make, so why not First Nations leaders, who are also paid with the public purse?

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