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Cowichan Tribes did file leaders' earnings on time

Cowichan Tribes Chief Chip Seymour says, contrary to a Leader story, his band did file chief and council
Cowichan Tribes Chief Chip Seymour says, contrary to a Leader story, his band did file chief and council's annual salaries by the feds' July 29 deadline.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland file

Halalt First Nation’s chief and council remain the only band in Cowichan that hasn’t filed its annual wages with the feds, according to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

However, CTF’s Jordan Batmen reported Aug. 12 Cowichan Tribes leaders have filed their annual earnings, with Chief William (Chip) Seymour making a total of $89,513.37 tax-free, which is equivalent to $124,000 in off-reserve earnings.

He serves a population of 4,775, “of whom 2,455 live on the Cowichan reserve,” Bateman explains via email to the News Leader Pictorial.

Meanwhile, Tribes Chief Seymour’s release stresses his band did file its leaders’ salaries on time, refuting a previous Leader story, stating Tribes and the Halalt hadn’t filed their earnings by the federal July 29 deadline.

“We’d like to clarify Cowichan Tribes is not among the half of Aboriginal chiefs and councils who failed to file our annual salaries with the federal government of Canada, contrary to what the article states.

“Our auditor stated chief and council were on time completing the financial statements, and signed them on July 29, 2014,” Seymour says.

Tribes statements could not be released to Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development on the same date, he says, “because two third-party confirmations had not been received by that date.”

“Cowichan Tribes has always communicated its finances to membership. Originally, hard copies were provided to membership, and now it is open to everyone electronically.”

Tribes leaders disclosed their salaries at the band’s last general meeting, Chief Seymour notes.

“It’s of high importance for Cowichan Tribes to be up front with membership about our finances and the implementation of the (First Nations Transparency) Act (sought by the CTF) hasn’t (changed) Cowichan practices, and our policies remain the same; Tribes leadership wants citizens of the Cowichan Valley to know that.”

Tribes has an excellent relationship with Aboriginal Affairs, he adds.

Tribes’ auditor added communication happened with AANDC’s funding services’ officer before July 29, and after, to advise statements would be issued a few days late, though chief and council approved those statements before the deadline, Seymour explains.

The CTF said Cowichan region’s Malahat and Penelakut bands filed statements by July 29.

About three-quarters of a chief’s and council’s wages come from federal and provincial taxpayers.

The rest, said Bateman, comes from band taxes, leasing revenues, and business profits for items such as cigarette and fireworks sales.

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