Fisher River Cree Nation (FRCN) in Manitoba enacted their Financial Administration Law (FAL) in 2013. They then set their own timelines and milestones to bring it to life for their community.
Fisher River Cree Nation is located along the shores of Lake Winnipeg, about 200 km north of Winnipeg. The Nation’s two reserves are home to 1,900 of its 3,700 members.
The Fisher River Economic Development Corporation oversees a community-controlled process of local revitalization. Part of its approach is that “the people of a community should be directly involved in pursuing and managing their own economic development.”
Some of the challenges facing the Nation included a need for a new school, as the existing one was overcrowded and in need of repairs, as well as a community centre to bring people together.
With ambitious business and tourism plans, Fisher River Cree Nation leaders decided the way forward was to develop and enact their own FAL to show the Nation’s commitment to good finance practices.
On October 16, 2013, Fisher Nation enacted their FAL. They gained their Financial Performance Certificate later that month, which allowed the Nation to become a borrowing member of the First Nations Finance Authority (FNFA).
The real work started after enacting their FAL. In order to also achieve Financial Management System (FMS) Certification, Fisher River Cree Nation began working closely with the FMB staff to bring their FAL to life.
The FMB supported Fisher River Cree Nation’s needs in a variety of ways, including:
- holding a conference with technical sessions on the Finance & Audit Committee, multi-year financial planning, risk assessment and policy development
- putting Fisher River in contact with other First Nations who have completed their FMS certification to share experiences and tools at the FMB’s annual FMS conference
- providing ongoing tools, templates, sample policies, webinars, and working groups
Fisher River Cree Nation expects to achieve FMS certification in 2017. When ready, the Nation will invite the FMB to review their finance practices. This review will cover four main areas of policy and procedures:
- Human Resources
- Information Management
In the end, FMS certification will provide a range of benefits to Fisher River Cree Nation and its members, including:
- transparency and accountability to Fisher River’s members and future partners
- interest savings when borrowing through the FNFA
- building a reputation for strong governance and finance practices
- giving staff the skills and tools they need to better manage the Nation’s finances
- long-term stability and continuity through agreed governance and finance practices
- better risk management
The community is already benefiting. The Nation obtained funding for a new school to house grades seven to 12.
Education is the foundation for our future and the new school will go a long way in ensuring that the educational needs of our youth are met — Chief David Crate
A new community centre is also in the works.
This is yet another example of us taking ownership of our future and carving our path forward — Chief David Crate