Okanagan Indian Band clarifies remuneration
The Okanagan Indian Band’s elected officials are responding to concerns about remuneration.
Federal legislation recently required all First Nations in the country to post online the wages and expenses of chiefs and band councils.
“You can’t make simple comparisons based off of population,” said Chief Byron Louis, with the Okanagan Indian Band.
“Canada has a population of about 35 million and Prime Minister Harper makes more than $300,000 a year, while the U.S. has about 313 million and President Obama makes $400,000 a year; it’s not about population, it’s about responsibilities.”
For the year ended March 31, Louis had a salary of $44,034 and expenses of $39,618 for a total of $83,652.
The total salary and expenses for band councillors were $31,530 for Homer Alexis, $33,012 for Lyle Brewer, $34,727 for June Cole, $31,614 for Tim Isaac, $34,777 for Allan Louis, $37,150 for Coo-La Louis, $39,878 for Diane Louis, $34,097 for Raymond Marchand, $36,038 for Russell Williams and $34,916 for Leland Wilson.
Louis says his council is responsible for all policies relating to health care, education, housing, economic development and territorial stewardship, and their responsibilities do not end at the reserve boundary.
“The needs of our membership often extend beyond the boundaries of our reserves,” said Louis.
“We assist band members from Vernon to Vancouver and beyond and that isn’t the case for a municipality.”
The Okanagan Indian Band has a total registered population of 1,962, with 840 band members residing on reserve lands.
Louis added that municipalities can rely on health authorities, non-profit organizations and school boards to administer health, education, economic development and housing programs.
Regarding remuneration, Louis says he will engage band members at a fall meeting.
“Remuneration is a matter between elected officials and the people they’re accountable to,” said Louis.
“It has been our practice for well over a decade to provide this information t0 our membership.”