Annual People’s Assembly a success in homeland

This year the annual People’s Assembly was held in Anacla at the House of Huu-ay-aht for the first time in many years, and it was a huge success.

Some citizens chose to stay in Bamfield for the event, but the majority stayed in Port Alberni and travelled by bus to Anacla. Many decided to stay Saturday night in Bamfield to participate in the cultural event once business was closed for the day.

When the bus arrived from Port Alberni quorum was achieved and the official business of the day began. Prior to that Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr. reviewed the progress of the previous year’s citizen motions. Below is a summary of these.

Citizen Motions: Executive Council Discussion  Status of Motion
Motion: The People’s Assembly hereby recommends that Executive Council directs the Huu-ay-aht administration to investigate and study the possibility of increasing the post-secondary living allowance provided to Huu-ay-aht students by at least $250 per month; and that Executive Council considers the matter of approving a minimum $250 increase in monthly funding for all Huu-ay-aht post-secondary students, effective no later than August 2019, as part of the 2018-2019 budgeting process.   The Post-Secondary Support Program has been updated and has incorporated the increases
Motion: The People’s Assembly hereby recommends that Executive Council directs the Huu-ay-aht administration to investigate allowing Post-Secondary students to claim technology as part of their regular textbook budget; and that Executive Council considers the matter of increasing students’ “textbook” allowance to $900/school year, effective no later than August 2019 as part of the 2018-2019 budgeting process.     The Post-Secondary Support Program has been updated and has incorporated the funds for citizens to purchase a computer
Motion: The People’s Assembly hereby recommends that Executive Council address the matter of rectifying the inequity between elected officials running for re-election and Huu-ay-aht employees who wish to stand for elected office by either: a) ceasing to provide remuneration for elected officials running for re-election during the campaign period; or b) rescinding the policy of requiring Huu-ay-aht employees running for office to take unpaid leave during the campaign period, so that a solution is in place before April 30, 2019.   Executive Council is having a closer look at the Elections act
Motion: The People’s Assembly hereby recommends that Executive Council directs the Huu-ay-aht administration to undertake a study of the Huu-ay-aht Constitution with the goal of finding ways to make the government structure more accountable and cost efficient through Constitutional amendments; and further, that Executive Council directs that the study referred to in the previous paragraph be informed by community engagement and questionnaires mailed out to citizens and that it be completed prior to the next election.   Executive Council deferred this to the Law and Policy Development Committee  
Motion: The People’s Assembly hereby recommends that Executive Council make public the remuneration paid to members of Executive Council and Ḥaw̓iiḥ Council and the expenses paid by the government for each Councillor.   This has been implemented and will show on the audit.
Motion: The People’s Assembly hereby recommends that: 1) Executive Council create a policy regarding the provision of firewood to Elders (the “Elders Firewood Policy”); and 2) the Elders Firewood Policy include a requirement that the firewood to be stacked and accessible to Elders and that, where needed, infrastructure be put in place to keep the wood dry.   Policy is currently being drafted. The Infrastructure Department is working on ensuring elders have the appropriate storage is created for elders.
Be it resolved that the People’s Assembly hereby recommends that: Executive Council reinstate distributions to Huu-ay-aht citizens on their 60th Birthdays and provide $10,000 distributions to all citizens who have turned 60 since the distributions were stopped.   Executive Council decided to keep the increase to the elder’s monthly benefits cheque
Be it resolved that the People’s Assembly hereby recommends that: Executive Council amend the Distribution Policy so that teenagers are given immediate access to distributions that are less than $500, rather than having those funds placed in trust. This was deferred to the Law and Policy Development Committee  

The Chief Councillor also presented this year’s Annual Report, which included the audited financial statements and committee reports. This brought about a number of questions, including concerns about education and training, proper use of Nation assets such as vehicles, wages and expenses of elected officials, management of the Nation’s resources, hiring policies, and much more.

The first order of business to be voted on was the Appointment of the Auditor. Some citizens expressed concerns that the firm that was appointed was the same firm who did not attend this year’s annual People’s Assembly. Councillor Connie Waddell explained that there would be stipulations added to their contract requiring them to attend the People’s Assembly. With the addition of that information the People’s Assembly approve the appointment of BDO as the Nation’s auditor for another year.

The proposed amendments to the Government Act were also approved. This included some changes that were approved during the spring sitting of legislature.

Citizens also heard from the Tribunal, Queen’s University, and the Huu-ay-aht Group of Businesses.

This year the Assembly addressed four citizen motions. They included the following motions:

  • Executive Council suggest that the HGB administrative offices be located on Huu-ay-aht treaty lands or, at a minimum, require that key HGB management and human resources personnel work on Huu-ay-aht treaty lands.
  • Executive Council direct that an independent auditor conduct a full review of all honoraria paid to Executive Council in relation to all meetings of government and all travel expenses for members of Executive Council paid by the Huu-ay-aht over the past two years and prepare a report, including recommendations and findings, to be made available to all Huu-ay-aht citizens.
  • Approves amending section 77(e) of the Government Act to reduce the quorum requirement for the People’s Assembly to 15% of eligible voters.
  • Executive Council require that $5 per cubic metre of any timber harvest from Huu-ay-aht First Nations traditional territory be contributed to a watershed restoration fund.

All motions were approved by Citizens, with the exception of the quorum requirements, which failed as citizens voted to leave the requirements at the current 20% of the population. The motion on council travel and honoraria for Executive Council was amended to ask that it be reviewed back four years instead of two.

Executive Council will review these motions, make recommendations, and report back to citizen within 90 days of the assembly.

Huu-ay-aht recognized several citizens at the assembly. These included Elders of the Year Simon and Sylvia Dennis and Zelta Clappis. This year’s Citizens of the Year were Duane Nookemis, Kristen Young, Tracey Gilmour, and Colleen Peters. Andrew Clappis was recognized at the Youth of the Year. Thank you to everyone who submitted a nomination this year.

The assembly concluded with a culture night lead by Councillor Edward R. Johnson and Chief Councillor Robert Dennis. The evening event was well attended and allowed people to share and celebrate their culture and traditions.

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