Kwikwetlem First Nation chief posts pay of nearly $1 million last year
A new federal law requiring First Nations bands to post their financial statements, remuneration and expenses online went into effect this week — with some shocking local numbers.
The chief of the Kwikwetlem First Nation, Ron Giesbrecht, earned $914,219 in the past year, according to the documents. Giesbrecht, who is also the band's economic development officer, posted expenses of $16,574.
Councillor Ed Hall, who is also the Kwikwetlem's fisheries officer, earned $52,350 (with $2,594 in expenses) while fellow councillor and capital infrastructure officer Fred Hulbert earned $32,639 after working 11 months. His expenses totalled $1,934. Marvin Joe took over Hulbert's role and in one month earned $4,723, posting $3,060 in expenses.
First Nations' council salaries are tax-free.
The population of the Kwikwetlem nation is 81 people — 35 live on the Kwikwetlem reserves, which total just over 208 acres; four live on other reserves; and 42 live off reserve, according to a Metro Vancouver report published in January.
Salaries for neighbouring Tri-City councils pales in comparison to the Kwikwetlem band.
Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart earned $128,987 last year while councillors earned $56,139 to govern a population of about 130,000. The city's highest-paid staff members earned just over $200,000.
In Port Coquitlam, a city of about 58,000, Mayor Greg Moore (who also chairs the Metro Vancouver board, for which he earned $71,000) earned $88,024 while council members took in $34,151 apiece.
Port Moody's approximately 34,000 residents paid Mayor Mike Clay $73,437 last year, with six councillors each receiving $25,423.
One-third of city council salaries are tax-free.
A staff member who answered a call to the band office said Giesbrecht was not available to comment and further information would be released later. When asked whether the chief's salary was a surprise to her or whether salary information had previously been made available to band members, she said, "No comment."
The First Nations Financial Transparency Act requires bands to post their financial information online.
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada has stated the act is consistent with generally accepted accounting rules that apply to government-owned businesses across Canada and reporting requirements for members of Parliament.