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Better oversight is needed for band spending

The Stoney Tribal Council introduced Andre Buss as the new acting tribal administrator and chief financial officer. Although a former employee, this change does seem to indicate a desire for change at Stoney Tribal Administration (STA).
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The Stoney Tribal Council introduced Andre Buss as the new acting tribal administrator and chief financial officer. Although a former employee, this change does seem to indicate a desire for change at Stoney Tribal Administration (STA). Perhaps this is a good time to assess whether all STA positions are essential when band revenue is low and three band administrations exist.

STA is largely funded using band revenue and has multiple accounting staff. Could these expenditures be allocated to federally funded departments?

I have often wondered about STA having observed Community Futures Treaty Seven (CFT7). CFT7 receives federal funding to disperse funds to the various First Nations in the Treaty Seven region. For Stoney Nakoda, it disperses to the Stoney Tribal Administration which then disperses to each band. Financial reports are then rolled up into one at year’s end by CFT7 using reports submitted by each program manager. This places financial responsibility on Service Canada instead of STA and band revenue.

An option to consider is to have each federally-funded department be overseen by incorporated boards of directors. Administrators can then assume executive director titles but be overseen by leaders and community representatives. This would place responsibility for reporting on each department, eliminate the need for STA to oversee these programs, and restore the circle.

Over the past 20 years, we have witnessed a decline in community influence over programs. Band councilors and community representatives do not have representation on committees. As a result, respect levels for councillors and the people are affected. The saddest example was when STA closed the Stoney Health Center to vaccinate non-Stoney employees and their families for the H1N1 virus, ahead of Stoney babies and families in 2009.

This was upsetting because it reminded me of how disease has affected our people. It was quite shocking and should have prompted our leaders to restore community representation.

Stoney Tribal Administration has under its umbrella multiple chief executive officers and chief financial officers. Is this practical? Over the last 20 years, we have also witnessed job titles becoming rather impressive. The health director is now chief executive officer of Stoney Health Services. The co-ordinator of Eagle’s Nest Family Shelter is now an executive director. Accountants are now chief financial officers. However, Joe Nakoda has remained a manager.

In evaluating STA, leadership might consider turning to their people. There are people like Terry Poucette, PhD in public administration, Peter Snow, master of science, John Snow, master of arts, Pauline Wesley, master of social work, Angela Young, master of social work, longtime educators, social workers and young leaders in the community, who would make excellent representatives to provide advice to leadership from a Stoney Nakoda point of view.

The argument will be made that all positions are essential. Maybe they are and leaders can determine that once both perspectives are presented. However, band revenue should not be used for oversight of federally-funded programs. Are all these financial positions necessary? It is worth assessing, using a practical, community-minded approach.




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