The FMB was a strong partner in this whole thing I mean I look to them for a lot of tools, resources, guidance.
They were very supportive and helpful.
I think we've benefited so much from support from FMB over the years, in pretty much as many levels as we possibly can look at because we've had support from FMB to be at our community meetings.
We've had FMB at our council planning sessions, and they they're there to provide support for our finance staff, and they are very supportive, you know when dealing with all the rest of the areas of our organization.
FMB has been fantastic through the whole process.
Every step of the way, they were there to answer questions, come out when needed, if I needed support, you know, to discuss something with my Finance and Audit committee or Chief and Council.
The team's been absolutely phenomenal with their support.
Their knowledge is top-notch.
There is a number of resources available to help First Nations in this process.
First of all, ourselves, The Financial Management Board.
Under our Capacity Development team, we have a number of managers that worked all over the country, working with First Nation and helping them implement their financial management systems itself.
Other resources that are out there, you know we have AFOA Canada, and in regional offices we have in Indigenous Services Canada, that could provide some support under P&ID funding.
I mean the FMB itself does have a number of workshops that we do to, completely within our office, and a lot you can find within our website.
I think that want to be able to examine the you know, what works or what was the best part of going through the certification process with FMB is the appreciation that it's not really about the building of financial policy or financial law.
We're building a community.
We're building a successful sustainable community with the standards that they're providing us.
Using the tangible capital asset registry, and the risk registry, and learning how to implement those into community planning, and being able to show the rest of the community how that has meaning for their long-range planning.
For a lot of community members, it's very difficult to put a clear picture of what the community vision, a successful healthy community looks like.
Well, Malahat has started the certification process with FMB, I think they set up in 2013.
We were finally certified last year.
The process and learning experience, I think for the whole nation, the financial management systems and the standards that were put into play, were an eye-opener.
For one, for good governance , transparency, and bringing a sense of jurisdiction and future for the community through the processes of financial management.
I think the most valuable lessons learned going through the FMS certification process was the importance of Chief and Council leadership and community buy-in, and also the importance of communication.
Communicating the benefits, the process, why we're doing this, kind of the what's in it for me kind of motto.
So it was really important to have a team activity, a community activity, as opposed to just one department or one person.
The most valuable lesson I think that Tzeachten received from going through the process was the process itself.
Everyone that was at the table went along on the journey.
And the in-depth review of all of the policies , and the laws, and how that would impact the community was the journey and that was really the benefit; not so much even the certification.
But it was the fact that everybody was so much more understanding of their roles and responsibilities at the end of the process.
The big lesson was keeping the momentum.
I found that was the biggest thing, was making sure that everybody knew the work plans of the certification process, and their role in it, and keeping that momentum going so nobody delayed, or you know, decide not to do it at this time because they wanted to focus elsewhere.
Some of the most valuable lessons I think for really realizing the importance of having sound governance financial management systems in place.
You know, through each department, everybody kind of had their own idea of what, you know, the ways things were done.
There was no unity through the process.
We really created some unity within our departments, and how reports are done, and we're finding operations to this process are starting to flow a lot smoother.
When we started looking at the FMB process, one of the outcomes that we wanted for the community was to bring financial resources, as you know, that borrowing process, long-term borrowing at a better rate.
The words confidence and credibility from, you know, just from the lending agencies and outside stakeholders, we acknowledge that at the beginning that that's what we wanted.
And that's how, you know, in order to bring better financial resources at a better rate to the community, we need to have better financial management.
And in the end, when we were, as we're going along, where we're at today, you know, we have that relationship, better relationship from our commercial bank, the Finance Authority, and our neighbours.
So it's made a big difference for the overall community.
Well we are a borrowing member from the FNFA, so in order to to secure those loans, and those debenture loans long-term, part of the process of getting those loans is through certification.
Other than that, one thing that we've developed is, you know, tangible capital asset registers.
We had no idea before what assets the nation actually had.
There was no accountability for that.
So through this process, we've learned a lot about assets, and managing those assets, and long term planning for the health of the nation, and succession planning as has been one big eye-opener for us.
I think the FMS certification changed the processes within Fisher River Cree Nation in that it's much easier to rely and make decisions on a policy and procedure, as opposed to on what might be perceived as kind of personal bias or kind of personal judgment.
And so it's much easier to kind of blame a policy or procedure than it is to blame a personal decision.
So it really kind of removed the personal bias and judgment from decisions within the nation.
The certification process will change the path that Tzeachten has ahead of it.
Being able to participate in the ten year funding agreement through ICS is going to be the next big step for Tzeachten.
And developing long term budgeting for both operational and capital, as well as the recognition for any projects that we want to participate in.
It is a certificate that can be utilized for any partnerships that Tzeachten wants to enter into, and that opens doors and creates an opportunity for Tzeachten to be self-reliant and self-sufficient.
Life learning, in terms of changes the staff and governance which is our Chief and Council and senior management had to learn their roles and responsibilities, had a different view or perspective.
But over time they've understood the importance of transparency and accountability, and how that rolls out on a day to day basis.
It is difficult. It is quite a process.
Like I said, it it's a big change for some nation.
Some nations already have you know, fairly strong financial management systems in place, some don't.
And there is some changes within things.
The staff is supportive, but it takes good communication in order to get them there if you don't have that strong leadership and communication, and you know, involvement in the process as well.
It can be difficult, but that involvement makes it easier.
Stuff throughout the organization have adjusted to the changes with that the financial certification brings brings along.
They understand that we've made some change that brings the leadership with us and that the leadership is paying attention to what we're doing.
But we've put in new policies, and so now we've really just going back to the drawing board, and rewording procedures for them of showing them we haven't changed the community.
We've just changed a level of standard that were trying to prove that we were doing good governance.
If another nation contacted me and asked me about the FMS certification process from a client perspective, I would definitely say that you need to have a very strong team that's committed to the process because it is quite a bit of work.
So you really need a strong team to be able to kind of be the champions moving the nation forward.
And it is about strong communication, making sure that you're all on the same page working together for the same goal, and really having that community and employee support.
If I was to give advice to another organization that wanted to pursue the FMS certification process, it would be that you have to really understand what your expectations of why you want to do this, and then build the structure to just...
If you are going on a trip, you know, you need a vehicle, you need food, you need resources, you maybe need a you know a lifeline along the way, you need all those things together for that journey that you're gonna go on because it's a long journey and sometimes along the way you have to stop, and get some new resources, and redirect yourself.
But it is the journey that you need to enjoy, not trying to get to the end of the road.
Networking. I really found the advice, it needs to be sought. Don't sit there and struggle and try to think you have to do this all by yourself.
Nation to nation relationships I think, is really important through this process.
I think the first things would be to look at examining your long-term goals, and your community vision, and also pay attention to the the roles that you need to try and fulfill as leadership.
You may be asking yourself to be in more than one role, as we always do, like we wear 10 hats.
But remember that when you're wearing the leadership hat, that the role of the governance has a different aspect than if you're working in at a staff level.
These systems are essentially stems to create good governance in jurisdictions for the Nations.
My point would be, is that the certification doesn't only just get you to venture loans.
It gets you into a whole system of infrastructure of Institutes that can help bring in jurisdiction for taxation, that can help access to debenture style loans for getting the infrastructure in there for growth and future of the community, and that would ultimately be my selling
feature on it.
It's good governance.
It's clear and transparent, supports community, as well as the other opportunities of getting in with the other institutions and growing the nation for the future generations.
The First Nations that have gone through our financial management systems process have indicated to us that having the system in place has its long-term benefits to their community, and they see them.
They all vary. Some vary in regards to being able to get to a different level of business.
Some are able to go to whichever financial institution that they prefer.
Some of them use the financial, the First Nations Finance Authority to access financing.
There's a whole array of benefits that come with the FMS certification, and you know, those First Nations that we have currently 15.
And in the future will have well over 100 over the next number of years that are working through currently the program.