Independent funding agreement in Tla-o-qui-aht's future

By Debora Steel, March 31, 2011

Tla-o-qui-aht members stand behind Chief Councillor Elmer Frank as he announces the nation's withdrawal from the main Canada/First Nations Funding Agreement. They now enter the same process as Ahousaht did last year when it withdrew from the main CFNFA.

Port Alberni — 

The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council budget meeting began on March 31 with the announcement by Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation that it intends to pursue its own Canada/First Nations Funding Agreement (CFNFA).

It is a requirement of the collective CFNFA, which Tla-o-qui-aht is currently a part of, that one year’s notice be given for withdrawal.

Tla-o-qui-aht members stood behind chief and council to make the announcement. A resolution signed by all members of Tla-o-qui-aht council will be delivered to the tribal council today to formalize the announcement. This will allow NTC and the withdrawing nation to prepare for a carve out of the nation’s proportionate funding from the main CFNFA, which is going into its fourth year of a five-year term.

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation will now go through the same process that Ahousaht First Nation went through last year when it decided to withdraw from the main CFNFA. Ahousaht has negotiated its own funding arrangement with Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, which kicks in April 1.

The nation’s funding relationship with the tribal council has changed, but there is a commitment from Ahousaht to purchase some services back from NTC, including health programming.

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chief Councillor Elmer Frank spoke on behalf of the nation, saying that though the formal announcement has been made, it jumpstarts a year of community planning and consultation that will be required before a final decision is made about whether the nation will actually take the next step.

Tla-o-qui-aht will have to engage INAC to see if they will be able to negotiate an independent CFNFA.

Frank said one thing is for sure; that, regardless of the funding arrangement, nothing will change the fact the “we are Nuu-chah-nulth people.”

He said that it was good to see that other tribes have taken steps toward independent funding agreements—Ahousaht and Maa-nulth Nations under treaty—and they are still at the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council table.

Frank promised to keep NTC and the member nations informed of Tla-o-qui-aht’s progress over the coming year.