Questions and Answers

There have been many questions asked by K'ómoks First Nation (KFN) members at previous community meeetings. The treaty team is committed to answering all questions and making those questions and answers available to all KFN members.

Please see the following link for updated ANSWERS to KFN member QUESTIONS

Treaty Q&A - Stage 5 Final Agreement | Q&A's Answered 2017 (coming soon)

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Recently Asked Questions from Treaty Forum & K.P.A.

Tax Related Questions:

  1. How long before tax goes into effect after final treaty?

The timing for removal of the tax exemption begins after the Effective Date of a treaty, which is probably about 5 years from now. The tax exemption expires for income tax 12 years after the Effective Date, and for sales tax it will be 8 years after the Effective Date.

  1. For taxes being collected after treaty by KFN- how is that enforced if people do not pay? Is it determined by us, and will it be supported by gov’t?

The K’omoks First Nation will enforce the property tax laws. Other tax laws will be enforced through agreements with Canada and British Columbia. Canada and British Columbia will collect the income tax and sales tax for us, and transfer it to us, after we pass a law authorizing the to do so. They will be the collection and enforcement agents for us.

  1. What taxes will we be paying?

Taxes will be payable on earned income (employment and investment), sales taxes (GST/PST) and property tax. If you are on Social Assistance you do not pay income tax, however you most likely already pay sales tax on your purchases.

  1. So, we will be triple taxed?

No, we will not be triple taxed. The tax regimes will be harmonized. When we tax, other government will not apply the same tax.

  1. Why, if it is no longer K’omoks land after treaty, are there taxes?

First of all, it is not K’omoks land right now. It belongs to Canada and we are allowed to use it, as set out in the Indian Act. After treaty, we will own the land. Most of the Lands will not be taxable, as they will remain with the K’omoks First Nation. Those lands that become owned by individuals will be taxed because they will own them.

 

So, with treaty two things will change the taxability of K’ómoks members:

  • There would no longer be “ Indian Reserves.” The land becomes Treaty Settlement Land (TSL) which we own.

  • The Taxation chapter says that Section 87 (the section about tax exemption) of the Indian Act will not apply to a K’ómoks member.

Therefore once the treaty phase-in period is over, K’ómoks members will be subject to tax regardless of where they live. For the most part, the taxes paid by members will be collected by or transferred to the K’ómoks government.

 

  1. So removal of Reserve Lands means we are no longer tax exempt. Isn’t this in the best interest of the Canadian Government? Weren’t Residential Schools also? (until ’96)

Removal of “Reserve Lands”, or the transfer of the Indian Reserves from Canada to K’omoks as Treaty Settlement Lands means we will own the lands, and not Canada. It is in our best interests.

Residential schools were provided for and allowed under the Indian Act, and the Indian Act will no longer apply to us. Because we will be under our own laws, we will not allow residential schools to happen. The residential school system happened because of the Indian Act.

 

Economic Questions:

  1. We need an economic model. Do we have one?

The K’omoks Administration and the Treaty team have heard this important issue and are developing a strategic plan for economic development. This plan is funded through TRM’s for the 2013-2015 fiscal years. It is to be developed with community consultation. There has already been some consultation on this matter through the Comprehensive Community Plan.

  1. Who is going to be accountable for our money and funding? Are we ready?

Currently, our KFN Administration is accountable for our money and receives and accounts for the funding from Indian Affairs. You will know this if you have attended the annual band meetings. This will not change. But Post Treaty our KFN Government will be made more accountable under our Constitution. We are putting laws and policies in place to ensure accountability and transparent financial management of all KFN money and funding.

Some of the accountability mechanisms will be built into a Financial Management Act. In preparation for this, the K’omoks First Nation has enacted a Financial Management Law which puts in place mechanisms for greater accountability.

  1. Who says where the revenue goes for the companies under Ec. Dev.?

Each of our companies is a separate legal entity, with its own Board of Directors and operates at “arms length” from the K’omoks government. The profits from these companies, if any, go into a trust account for the K’omoks First Nation. The terms of reference of the Trust set out what the money is to be used for, and the trustees need to ensure the monies are spent in accordance with the Trust Agreement. This will not change.

  1. Are Joint Ventures really Economic Development?

Joint Ventures are usually for Economic Development purposes. Through our Joint Ventures we receive a share of profits, gain employment and participate in the management of the venture. So, we receive the benefits of economic development, and avoid risk and requirements of capital investment by creating joint ventures.

  1. Investment vs. employment?

Employment of KFN members is a high priority for the K’omoks government. Investment in such things as education, job training and Ec. Dev. opportunities will provide employment for KFN members (like J.V’s). As a result of the John Hart Impact Benefit Agreement we have set up a small trust account for education and training, and our JV partners are required to hire K’omoks members. As part of treaty, we will add to the trust account. This will be for members living on and K’omoks Lands so they can have training opportunities that are not covered by other sources of funds.

  1. How do we manage our finances? How do we ensure the people are properly trained if they are not schooled?

We do and will continue to manage our finances in a manner that conforms to financial management standards applicable to public governments. This has been explained at the annual band meeting.

Individual members are provided with opportunities for education and training, but the ultimate responsibility is with the members themselves. The K’omoks government can provide opportunities but it is up to each individual member to take advantage of the opportunities and use their own initiative.

  1. If we cannot sustain the small businesses that were started in the past, ie: Log Houses/Cabins, how do we expect to support ourselves once we give our rights away?

The treaty does not give away rights. The treaty clarifies rights and ensures they have constitutional protection. It also provides a much broader from of self-government. Our small businesses are doing well. The Art Gallery, the RV Camp, the forestry operations and Pentlatch are all successful ventures. Our Joint Ventures with Uplands and Domcor are also successful.

The treaty will provide us with more resources and more opportunities. All of the additional lands and resources will provide additional economic opportunities.

  1. How will we pay for health and education?

Health, Education and Social Assistance will continue to be funded in the post-treaty environment. These are universal social programs that we have a right to have. They will apply in the post-treaty environment. Other programs, those that are strictly under Indian Affairs, will be applicable as long as they continue to exist. If Indian Affairs begins to cut back on these programs, all First Nations will be affected.

  1. What does happen if we cannot bring in a profit from our businesses. Will this affect our programs?

We are not required to bring in a profit from our businesses to support the deliver of programs and services. If our businesses do not make a profit, the programs and services will continue. That is what happens now, and this will not change.

Every member, as a resident of the province and a citizen of Canada has a right to receive universal social programs (Education, Health and Social Assistance). These will always be there, as long as these programs exist.

  1. Banks do not seem to understand Treaty and it sounds like it is harder to get a mortgage. What can we do to address this?

One thing that is clear is that Banks do not like investing and providing mortgages on Indian Reserves. This will change with a treaty.

The treaty provides us with the tools required to participate in the financial main stream. Banks may not understand treaty, but they understand and can work with the tools that a treaty gives us. For example, banks understand what fee simple lands are. They need to be shown that the treaty gives us fee simple lands. Banks understand the certainty of tax revenues. They need to understand that treaties give us tax revenues. So, like us, banks will need to be made aware of the financial tools that a treaty gives us.

  1. Has our CCP team approached the idea of leasing our land for development to any companies?

K’omoks has been approached to lease lands for economic development opportunities. Chief and Council will do what is best for K’omoks. We do need to develop an economic development plan, based on the CCP, and to ensure there is community input into the plan.

 

Government Related Questions:

  1. Re: the voting process- Does it go by: Yes = yes No= no?

Yes. This decision will be made through community consultation during the Constitution Development process. However, if we get a “NO” vote from a majority of voters, there will be no treaty. If we get a “YES” vote from a majority of voters, there will be a treaty.

People who don’t vote wont have their vote counted either way.

  1. What can we do to ensure that our treaty government will be held accountable?

Accountability requires the participation of members. Members have an obligation to inform themselves and to question their government. In the draft Constitution being developed there will be requirements for laws and policies in place to ensure the K’omoks Government is held accountable, but this will only happen if you exercise your rights as citizens.

  1. What laws can we put in place to guarantee future generations that money will not be misused. Has KFN committed to protecting the Capital Transfer?

In preparation for treaty and in order to manage our finances more like public governments, a Financial Management Act has been put in place, and through the Constitution the government is held accountable. In addition, the Capital Transfer amount is intended to go into a trust account, as are profits from K’omoks corporations.

  1. I want financial transparency. How can treaty guarantee this?

The treaty is a tool. It creates obligations and opportunities. It also protects rights, but there are no guarantees. Through the Financial Management Act, the Constitution, Integrity and Conflict of Interest Act and annual audits, there will be sufficient tools to provide for financial transparency. But you will also need to exercise your obligations and duties as members to hold your government accountable.

  1. What stops our “newfound” government with ultimate power from becoming corrupt?

The best tool to prevent governments from being corrupt is to have informed and active citizens. Apathy invites abuse of power.

The treaty will also provide tools of good government. There will also be laws and policies in place to prevent this from happening. There will be an impartial and independent process for K’ómoks citizens and other individuals who live within K’ómoks lands to appeal or ask for a review of K’ómoks government decisions. Currently, under the Indian Act, there is no formal process to review or challenge decisions made by the K’ómoks Chief and Council, other than in the courts.

  1. Will there be laws and policies in place?

There will be laws and policies in place, yes. These will be developed by K’omoks and for K’omoks.

  1. Is the post- treaty government run by elected representatives?

Yes. The structure of treaty government will be developed based on the Constitution that K’ómoks members build. After treaty, the band will no longer exist. There will be a transition period during which the Chief and Council will form the government.  After the transition period, the new government will be elected based on the Constitution.

  1. Do we know of a government run by Heads of Families? Is there a comparable success rate? Pro’s and Con’s of each?

Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Chek’tles7et’h’ First Nation example? 9 member legislation: 5 elected, 4 Hereditary Chiefs put in to legislation by Hereditary leaders of the Nation. They are 3 years in and still learning.

We have had this conversation at numerous community meetings and the Constitution that is being developed is not a government of Heads of Families. A government run by Heads of Families has not been supported by a majority of K’omoks members. It will be one of elected representatives as set out in the draft Constitution.

 

Communications:

  1. Nisga’a has a booklet (binder) printed in simple “I” language “Understanding the Nisga’a Treaty”. Can we do this?

There are numerous communications materials that have been developed. You can check the website for these. In particularly, see the green booklet developed by K’omoks which summarizes the Agreement in Principle. We will have the similar communications materials for the Final Agreement.

  1. Can we get hard copies of today’s presentations?

Yes, it will take some time to contact presenters and receive their presentations however. Please contact Niki at the treaty office, 250-339-4745 or by email at nicole.rempel@komoks.ca if you would like a copy of any/all presentations.

  1. We need a broader explanation of “fee simple” land.

Fee simple lands means lands that are fully owned by the K’omoks First Nation and K’omoks members. That full ownership comes from a grant of land from government. Indian reserves are not owned by Indians but by the Crown. We are allowed to live on Indian Reserves, but do not own them, therefore we cannot use them as we choose. We can only use Indian Reserves as we are allowed to under the Indian Act.

But with Fee Simple lands, we can do what ever we want, as long as we don’t break the law.

  1. What is section 91.24 of Constitution?

Section 91.24 of the Constitution of Canada gave the Federal Government jurisdiction over the Indians and lands reserved for Indians.

 

Miscellaneous Questions:

  1. Do we lose our status and healthcare if we sign a treaty? If not, what happens with health?

We will continue to be eligible for all programs and services (including health social services and education) available to Aboriginal people and we will continue to be Status Indians. KFN has the opportunity to enhance health and education by developing programs for these important services.

  1. Where in this process is the Elder’s Payout? We have Elders that are not well, we should not leave this too long.

K’omoks has developed a draft individual benefits package. One of the suggestions was for an elders payout, but this was not the first priority. We will continue to review the benefits package with members, and determine the “affordability” of the proposal. The individual benefits package will not be made available until after the “Effective Date” of the treaty.

  1. Can we actually “go back” to the Indian Act if we fail as a treaty nation? If we fail and are forced back into the Indian Act and lose everything, what happens to us? Who will help us? Do we retain any land or rights if we revert? Do we go to the International Monetary Fund for a bailout? What is we go bankrupt?

This is an extremely hypothetical question, based on a worst-case scenario. The treaty does not contemplate failure, and it does not contemplate returning to the Indian Act. A failure of this magnitude would be something that governments and financial institutions would want to avoid. Any remedies for such a situation would depend on the specific circumstances at that time. The International Monetary Fund is not applicable to First Nations, but there will likely be other remedies available if this happens.

There is currently no fund to “bail out” Indian Bands if they go bankrupt.

  1. How far are we into the treaty process?

In March of 2012 the AIP was approved and KFN is currently negotiating a Final Agreement. We are probably about two years away from completing our negotiations. Negotiations are stalled because Canada has not mandate to negotiate Fish, Fiscal and Migratory Birds at this point.

  1. Is there any money for our members?

An individual Treaty Benefits Package is being contemplated. This will have to be finalized and will depend on the fiscal health of the K’omoks First Nation.

  1. How can we establish pride in our culture(s) for our youth? It would make them proud of who they are, where they come from and want to help make a change and stay here.

This is a good question, and it is something that only the K’omoks people can answer. To some extent we discussed this in the Comprehensive Community Plan, you might want to look at the provisions that deal with culture. We are trying to revive the culture through the dancers as well as hunter programs. There are programs for our youth like the Junior Hunters Program, and others that embrace our cultures. It would also be beneficial to get youth and elders together and ask for guidance on this issue.

  1. Are there other options for self-government besides treaty?

There are no real options for self-government other then treaty, in British Columbia. There are some small measures we can take under various pieces of legislation, including the Land Management Act, the First Nations Financial Management Act. We can also develop our own Membership Code and Election Code under the Indian Act. But these are all half measures, and the only way to be truly self-governing is through treaty negotiations and economic development.

  1. Why is it costing so much money just to get a treaty?

Treaty is an important decision for the K’omoks First Nation. We need good, sound advice, tough negotiators and good political resolve. Canada also needs to be held accountable. They have delayed unnecessarily and this has cost us more money.

But much of the funding has gone into developing useful tools for the K’omoks. The Comprehensive Community Plan, the Land Use Plan and the Human Resource and Capacity Building Strategies have all come from funds negotiated by the treaty team.

  1. Define what our aboriginal rights and title are now, and what it will mean after treaty.

Aboriginal rights are essentially the right to hunt, fish, trap and gather for food, social and ceremonial purposes. Aboriginal title is ownership of lands we can show we have occupied “exclusively” for a very long time. Exclusive ownership is difficult to prove, particularly because of overlaps. These rights become expanded under treaty. For example, to date, no court has made a declaration of Aboriginal title and no court has made a comprehensive declaration of Self-government. Under treaty, we get full ownership of the Treaty Settlement Lands and Self-government.

  1. What IS bad about our system now?

To start with it was under the current system that the residential schools were allowed to happen. This all happened under the Indian Act and under the “protection” of the Minister of Indian Affairs. The potlatch system was also banned under the Indian Act.

Also, we do not own our lands. We are “allowed” to live on Indian Reserves, as long as Canada will allow, in the way Canada requires. We do not make our own laws, and are always subject to the whim of the Minister of Indian Affairs. For example, the entire residential school process was because of the Indian Act.

And because we do not own our lands, economic development is difficult. Most Indian Reserves become Islands of poverty and abuse surrounded by an ocean of wealth. We need to change this.

But some people like the way things are, because they are used of it.

  1. If the government(s) have not embraced and honoured treaty for other nations who currently have treaty in place, then why does the K’ómoks Band think that we will fare any better?

All three governments have a vested interest in ensuring the success of KFN’s treaty, therefore, the treaty commitment needs to be clear, fair and implemented within the spirit and interest of treaty. There will also be a 15 year review period and a dispute resolution chapter.

If governments do not honour the treaties, the treaties provide the legal remedies.

  1. Yes the Indian Act sucks…… Can’t we just tweak it instead of starting over?

There have been many efforts at finding support amongst First Nations to amend the Indian Act, with strong push back from Canada. It is an antiquated federal Act which demands a whole new approach to self- government rather than trying to amend it.

It is like trying to tweak a crumbling house. If the foundation and the walls are failing, it is better to tear it down and rebuild, on a new foundation.

13.  Regarding post treaty and loans; what will be used for collateral for applying for loans?

K'omoks members may be able to user this own property (land) as collateral for loans, in addition to any security the K'omoks government may provide.
 
14. Post treaty- how can K'omoks make revenue? eg. taxes, economic development? C.P's. Do we tax properties?
For economic opportunities, K'omoks will have a large volume of land it can develop, and it can use revenues from land development opportunities for further economic develop. Komoks will also have a large forestry licence.

 In addition, there are opportunities form revenue created through tax powers and revenues form our Joint Venture partners. For more information, see the Economic Development Brochures we have published.

Past Questions and Answers