Songhees Nation - Video Transcript

Our mission is to provide the tools and guidance that instills confidence in First Nations Financial Management and reporting systems to support economic and Community Development.

The First Nations Financial Management Board is assisting First Nations and taking a real step toward taking control over the financial future of their communities and placing it back into their own hands.

We work with First Nations across Canada, one of them is the Songhees First Nation on Vancouver Island in British Columbia.

My name is Christina Clarke, I'm the Property Tax Administrator for the Songhees First Nation where I've been working for about 17 years.

Songhees First Nation is located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island in British Columbia.

It is a small First Nation.There are 535 band members, about three-quarters live on the Songhees reserve.

The reserve is located just outside the City of Victoria and surrounded by three municipalities so it's an urban reserve with a lot of opportunities to engage in the regional economy.

I think in the past we have witnessed activities going on around us, cultural tourism happening, all kinds of industry in the City of Victoria.

And we've been watching that and unable to participate in it.

And as we increase our capacity, we start thinking of ourselves as a potential business partner, and we start considering what the opportunities are for the future for us.

So that changes the way we think about what our avenues are through education system, and how we might, which industries were interested in joining.

Right now some of the things that were considering would be cultural tourism and conference center and also just the band members have very valuable land close to the capital city and that land is currently not used for its highest and best use.

It's used for residential mobile home parks which takes up a lot of space, doesn't leave the band members a lot of room for expanding their family and and enjoying their land.

So if they were to shift their land use planning to something more, perhaps commercial development that's denser, takes up less land, generates higher lease revenues for them, which would also generate higher property tax revenues for the band.

That's some of the things that were thinking about in our long-term economic development planning.

As Songhees has moved through the Fiscal Statistical Management Act implementation, we have discovered that our professionalism has raised increasingly, so our ability to understand the business market and to be a good business partner has increased.

And that knowledge has been transferred to our band members and increasing their ability to to meet with potential investors and discuss business opportunities in particularly in reference to their land and the development of their land or redevelopment of their land.

So we're finding that the general capacity building that FSMA implementation and certification of our financial administration has brought us has just increased our level of professionalism.

It's a long process working towards certification that involves a lot of your staff as well as your Chief and Council and community members.

So it's important to keep people engaged in the process to remind people of why we're doing this and keep our eye on the prize and to just keep supporting your fellow staff as they work through this.

That we're doing this for good reasons.

We're doing this for the benefit of our band members.

And really the policies that we put in place will make all of our jobs easier, and so there's a work up front which will actually to more efficiencies in the future.

So the person is responsible for implementing the FSMA or leading the team for implementing the FSMA. It's important for them to continually support and encourage the team members and just remind them why we're doing this.

One of the most exciting projects that were working on here at Songhees First Nation is the Songhees  wellness center.

It's a multipurpose building. It's 60,000 square feet.

It contains an administration center, health center and Education Center, a gymnasium, with a conference center and full-size industrial kitchen.

It has a gift shop and it will display artwork from our many talented artists.

It will be a place where our band members can come and gather together with an elders center and youth center.

But it will also be an opportunity for us to engage with the region, so we'll be hosting conferences, generating revenue from that.

But we'll also be inviting people that live here, or people that are visiting the City of Victoria to come to our building and see our art and see displays about our history and discover what Songhees Nation is all about.

And it's kind of a gateway for us to participate in the regional economy.

So we're shifting our thinking from waiting for what is going to come to us,  when are we going to be receiving, what we're due.

And there are outstanding land claim issues and treaty issues and and certainly. That conversation is not done.

But while that unfolds we can start doing business, you know, we can get to work.

We can start planning our own future and that's really kind of true self government and self-determination sort of taking a handle on where we want things to go and actively pursuing it, rather than reacting to what's happening to us.

We are creating opportunities for the future.

The First Nation's Financial Management Board our services include support of Financial Administration Law, development Financial Management System Certification, Intervention, and Capacity Development.

For more information visit our website at or call toll-free 1877-925-6665