Snuneymuxw First Nation 2019 Annual Report

Dec. 11/19

Snuneymuxw First Nation 2019 Annual Report



A Message From Xum’silum – Chief Mike Wyse

Dear Snuneymuxw:

In this Annual Report you will read information about various collaborative initiatives we have underway. The 2019-2021 Snuneymuxw Strategic Plan, endorsed unanimously by Chief and Council, sets the direction for our Nation and specifically outlines numerous short-term and long-term objectives that we are gearing up to accomplish. But, the most important relationship is the one with you and I will continue to publish quarterly written reports to keep you up-to-date on all of the work our Nation is doing.


Promoting recognition and implementation of our treaty and aboriginal rights and title is one of our council priorities, and there are a number of strategic reconciliation negotiations in progress. Since the signing of our Letter of Understanding with Canada this past August, we are finalizing the technical details for the transfer of the Camp Nanaimo Lands to Snuneymuxw as an addition to our reserve land. Essentially, this will be an urban Snuneymuxw reserve, adding to our reserve land base. On the other hand, our reconciliation implementation agreement with British Columbia is now finalized. This provincial agreement will transfer Mt. Benson and Mt. McKay parcels of land to us, but also includes other benefits to Snuneymuxw. As part of this process, we are working hard to have the Nanaimo estuary tenures addressed and a renewed relationship with the Nanaimo Port Authority that respects who we are as Snuneymuxw People. The City of Nanaimo issued support for the return of our land to us by the provincial and federal governments, and we are working to develop joint economic priorities for the betterment of Nanaimo and Snuneymuxw.

Strengthening our Snuneymuxw economy is another key priority of our council. Just over a month ago, Snuneymuxw acquired 1266, 1265 and 1295 Gordon Road – formerly Dr. White property. The Thlap’Qwum trustees worked with Chief and Council to purchase this property and we are in the early planning stages. Over a year ago, we began the licensing process for a retail cannabis store, and we are now in the final licensing stages. In the coming months you will see employment and other related opportunities. Excitingly, the Snuneymuxw gas station is moving along. It is our hope that we commence a grand opening sometime in the spring of 2020. These economic opportunities allow us to offer needs that our community desperately require, such as housing and employment to name a few.


Finally, building a strong Snuneymuxw Government is key to our success as your Chief and Council. Fiscal accountability is important to me. We will continue our zero – deficit, balanced budget that we achieved last year. Managing our Nations’ purse in a good way will only ensure that we can pass a healthy and vibrant Nation to our future generations. Developing policies and procedures that meaningfully support Snuneymuxw Administration ensures stability for our organization. A 10-year Snuneymuxw Economic Plan is in the planning stages and this plan will outline how resources will be allocated to achieve various community priorities over a 10-year period. With Petroglyph Development Group building Snuneymuxw businesses and the Thlap’Qwum growing our trust monies, we are in a position to plan ahead for the benefit of our Nation. As our community grows, our organization grows as well. We are adapting to these changes as you will see in the Fiscal 2020 Budget Report. As well, with our renewed Letter of Expectation with the RCMP, it is one of my top priorities to restore public safety in our community.

I look forward to the opening of our new health centre and the Paddle to Snuneymuxw next year as we host Tribal Journeys 2020 in our territory. Change is happening and the work of our Nation is steadily moving forward.

We have a clear vision for our Snuneymuxw Government to achieve economic, political and social prosperity. Building a strong Nation takes time and a team of people working together for a common goal.

I am honoured to lead the work of our Nation with you and our council.




Chief Mike Wyse





Snuneymuxw and Canada sign the Letter of Understanding

Snuneymuxw and the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, signed a Letter of Understanding committing them to move forward together to renew and strengthen the historic treaty relationship and take the next step on meaningful reconciliation of the governance and rights     of     our     Snuneymuxw     people.


Through the Letter of Understanding, Canada and Snuneymuxw have agreed to explore a number of key topics and priorities that would support the negotiation of nation-to-nation reconciliation agreements. Topics include matters under the Douglas Treaty of 1854 related to historic village sites, fishing and hunting rights, as well as other topics including decision-making and governance over lands and resources; self-determination and self-government; fiscal relations; child and family protection and renewal; health of community members; community planning and development; housing; and community infrastructure.


As a first step towards concrete progress under the Letter of Understanding, Minister Bennett also confirmed Canada's commitment to reaching agreement with Snuneymuxw on the terms of the transfer of the former Department of Defence "Camp Nanaimo" property to Snuneymuxw.


Snuneymuxw and the City of Nanaimo enter a renewed Partnership


In the early 2000s, the City of Nanaimo and Snuneymuxw First Nation began taking intentional steps towards strengthening our relationship as neighbours. In addition to the two governments signing the MOU and protocol agreements, we have entered into a number of service agreements ensuring essential services are provided to Snuneymuxw people. As well, Snuneymuxw and the City have partnered on the Saysutshun (Newcastle Island) Ferry Service and have collaborated on the development of a Saysutshun Business Plan that envisions Indigenous development on Newcastle Island. The renewed protocol agreement serve as a critical pathway for Nanaimo and Snuneymuxw to continue to work together on present, future and new economic and community priorities. Regular political meetings are held that enable both governments to raise opportunities, discuss issues and accomplish a shared vision. The renewed 2019 Protocol Agreement has strong language about recognition of rights, reconciliation and guiding principles, ensuring the highest probability of success. The parties agree to work in a “spirit of cooperation,” good faith, and trust.


Snuneymuxw enters a Partnership with Nanaimo, School District 68 and BC Housing
The Te’tuxwtun Corridor Project

Project Overview

Snuneymuxw First Nation, BC Housing, City of Nanaimo and Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools – collectively known as the Knowledge Partners – have joined in partnership to create a comprehensive land use plan that will identify development plans for 564 Fifth Street, 502 & 505 Howard Avenue.


Project Background

The purpose of the Te’tuxwtun Project is for the Knowledge Partners to explore opportunities for joint development and partnership in coordination with each other on all three properties. It is the Partners’ intention to enhance the community living through the integration of community services. The Te’tuxwtun Project will be based on the teachings of the land and is envisioned to provide the foundation to protect and improve the quality of life for all present and future community members. Priorities for the project include:

new affordable rental housing;
a new location for the Learning Alternatives school district program;
the integration of culture, parks and recreation services; and
the incorporation of other community services identified through the planning process such as health services and child care.

Snuneymuxw will guide the growth and development of the three properties – bringing a wealth of cultural knowledge to the project. The Te’tuxwtun Knowledge Partners will work collaboratively to create a relationship-based community, inspiring a way of living that will reveal the interconnectedness and importance of the sacred mountain scape and the glorious seaway.


Snuneymuxw hosts the installation of VIU President

Snuneymuxw hosted the installation of Dr. Deb Saucier – the new president for Vancouver Island University. History was made since VIU is the first university to install a president inside a longhouse.


Dr. Saucier, who is Métis, told the audience she was “humbled” and honoured to have her installation ceremony at the longhouse. As VIU president, Dr. Saucier said the institution will continue to develop innovative programs that will allow students to flourish on and off- campus.


Snuneymuxw Administration: Policy Development

The Snuneymuxw Administration is responsible for overseeing the administration of programs and services. This past year, the Admin and HR Portfolio oversaw a major project to update SFN’s policies and procedures.


As part of SFN’s commitment to become certified by the First Nations Financial Management Board (FNFMB), policies and procedures must align with FNFMB standards. Certification by FNFMB is a major step to ensure Snuneymuxw finances are managed to the highest standard.


Further, SFN recognized gaps in current policies that needed to be filled in order to operate a more effective and efficient government. Thus far, SFN’s Admin and HR Portfolio has overseen the development of four key policy manuals:

SFN Finance Policy Manual
SFN Governance Policy Manual
SFN Human Resource Policy Manual
SFN Information Management Policy Manual


The Finance Policy Manual was approved by Chief and Council in March 2019. The Human Resource Policy Manual was approved in principle by Chief and Council in October 2019 with some amendments forthcoming. The Governance and Information Management Policy Manuals are currently undergoing final amendments and will be complete by the end of March 2020.


In each policy manual, SFN is working to incorporate the “One Canoe” model as a guiding principle of the organization. The One Canoe model states: “In the Coast Salish culture, those that are in the canoe with you are family; you trust each other and take care of each other. Snuneymuxw First Nation (SFN) people believe there is a vital interconnection between individual success and the success of the collective whole. Canoe Families collectively hold knowledge, expertise and resources. By using the One Canoe Family model we incorporate a cultural approach to service delivery that follows traditional practices of the Snuneymuxw.” By adopting the One Canoe model across the organization, SFN will ensure Coast Salish culture and values are fully integrated into SFN’s administrative practices.


Qwam Qwum Stuwixwulh School Grand Opening


Snuneymuxw First Nation, along with the Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools, officially unveiled our new Qwam Qwum Stuwixwulh School and it is now operating. The 19,000- square foot modern facility on Stuywut Street in Cedar replaces the old 3,800-square foot facility at Centre Street. The new school is an innovative approach that blends Snuneymuxw teachings with the school district curriculum offering education to K-7 students. QQS welcomes both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students with a focus on Hul’q’umi’num’ language, Snuneymuxw culture, and land-based teachings. Its opening was the culmination of decades of negotiations between elders, school district administration and Snuneymuxw.


During an event on August 30, Chief Michael Wyse said “that though many Snuneymuxw members have gone on to significant academic success, as children they were required to attend school for a number of decades in a makeshift facility squeezed between a railway and the main road of our community.”


Our Nation’s new school models a form of co-governance between SFN and School District #68 that is nothing less than a transformational form of education. It not only shares and honours our shared history but also values the Snuneymuxw way of life. “This type of education will be carried by all students who attend this new school for the rest of their lives,” Chief Wyse said. “Together, we embark on a better way.”


The completed $10.8 million state-of-the-art modern building encompasses the design features of a longhouse, accommodates up to 70 children from Kindergarten to Grade 7, and delivers traditional teachings using the latest technology.



Tribal Journeys 2020: Paddle to Snuneymuxw

Snuneymuxw is hosting the annual Tribal Journey in July 2020. This will be the first time the annual event is hosted by Snuneymuxw. The host nation will typically see over 100 canoes arrive on the final day of paddling, along with hundreds of paddlers, road crews, and support boats. Typically, upwards of 5000 guests stay with the host nation for 7 days of protocol, camping, meals and celebration. In 2018 the event was hosted in Puyallup and in 2019 the Lummi Nation. Snuneymuxw has forged a community-wide partnership with Nanaimo, VIU, SD68, the Nanaimo Port Authority, the Regional District of Nanaimo, the Nanaimo Hospitality Association, the Nanaimo Aboriginal Center and Tourism Vancouver Island to support TJ2020.


Chief and Council established a Steering Committee to oversee the planning and fundraising for the $1.5 million dollar event. The Committee has been given the direction to develop a detailed event budget, hire staff as necessary for planning and raise all the necessary funds from government, corporations and in-kind donations of services. The Committee, comprised of Council members and several staff, has already been meeting for the past few months. Councillor Regan Seward is the chair of the Steering Committee and he is excited to see the event on Snuneymuxw territory. “This is something that our Elders expressed their desire to see our Nation host. A celebration of culture and our connections to the big ocean travelling canoe,” says Seward. “We have lots of work to do with planning and we will be encouraging community to get involved in the coming months.”


The event will create direct economic benefit to our Nation, creating summer employment, contracted services for food, set up, and lots more. In addition, the Steering Committee will recruit hundreds of volunteers to assist leading up to and throughout the event. This epic event is a powerful expression of a profound relationship between our people and its Coastal waters. Amazingly, many ocean-going canoes from throughout the Great Pacific Northwest Coast travel great distances, destined to one location, coming together to honor a way of being, strengthening our relationship with each other and through traditions and ceremony honoring the brilliance of our Ancestors.



The Thlap’Qwum Trust


The Community Trustees are:

Sandra Good - Community Trustee until December 2021

Keith Atkinson - Community Trustee until December 2021

Collette Jones - Community Trustee until December 2021

Ken Graham - Community Trustee until December 2021

Gary Manson - Community Trustee until December 2021

The Canada Trust Company (TD) – Corporate Trustee (Chris Angeconeb)


Trust Accounts

There are 3 separate Trust accounts comprising the Thlap'Qwum Community Settlement Trust:

(1) Main account, (2) Minor's account, and the (3) Unclaimed account.

Please contact the trustees for more information. 



Trustee Training

In 2019, the Trustees completed National Aboriginal Trust Officer Association (NATOA) training program, Phase 1 offered by Lethbridge College. This online course is designed to explore and build knowledge about trusts and investments for Indigenous people who are Community Trustees. On May 13 and 14th, 2019, the Trustees attended the National Aboriginal Trust Officers Association's 6th Annual Indigenous Trust and Investment Conference at the Westin Bayshore in Vancouver. This 2-day conference is designed to provide an informative and interactive venue for all those involved with Indigenous Trusts.



A tab on the Nation's website has been set up specifically for the Thlap'Qwum Trust. The trustees will use the link to provide information and updates to the membership. Lastly, each Trustee has a trust specific e-mail address and you can contact them directly.


Unclaimed Distributions

In August 2017 the Snuneymuxw First Nation made a one-time distribution to the Membership. Since then a majority of the Membership have received their share of the distribution but there are still outstanding funds that are unclaimed by members. The Trust will continue to search for Members who are eligible.


Trust Coordinator

The Trustees determined that it would be beneficial to engage the services of an experienced coordinator to assist both the First Nation and Trustees to implement the application process for Snuneymuxw members to access funds from the trust. This is called the Advance Request process. This process will be operational in early 2020.


Value of the Trust and Transactions

The original funds arrived on August 11, 2017 and shortly thereafter a capital distribution was made to the membership of the Snuneymuxw First Nation. The 2018 financial statement shows the trust capital at a little over $30 million as of December 31, 2018 with a net income of $300K

+ payable to the First Nation. In September of 2019 the Trustees approved a capital encroachment request from the Council for the purchase of lands. The current market value of the main account, as of November 2019 is just over $31 million minus the 2018 net income provides for an overall increase of just under $2.7 million in 2019.


The Snuneymuxw Cedar Woman’s House – A Transition House

Snuneymuxw is operating Xpey Selhni, the Cedar Woman. It is phase 1 of 2 - a unique and innovative purpose-built facility for Indigenous women and children who have experienced or are at risk of experiencing violence. This facility is designed around Indigenous values and cultural priorities and programming. The Cedar Woman’s House serves the immediate need for emergency shelter and services for Indigenous women and children in the region of the Hul’q’umin’um’-speaking people.


The resident selection process includes referrals from Kwumut Lelum, Haven Society and other community partners, and may include a selection committee made up of representatives from SFN and the wider community. Residents may be selected based on vulnerability or at-risk.


The second phase of the project is to develop the long-term, purpose-built facility which will include the safe home and transition housing for Indigenous women and children, as well as second-stage housing for Indigenous peoples. As a means of healing and breaking the cycle of violence, SFN will focus on the Ancestral teachings left by Elders. SFN’s Coast Salish Snawayalth (teachings) tell us that the interconnectedness between self, family and community is essential to the survival of our language, culture and all that we consider sacred.


By entrenching Coast Salish culture into ways of behaving and relating to the world, women will gain a sense of belonging and self‐pride that is essential to healthy community living. This will be their renewed strength as they move ahead toward healthier communities. Part of the vision for this development is to support stable tenancies through connection to services. SFN will work with tenants to also connect them to local services and programming offered by SFN, Kwumut Lelum, and throughout Nanaimo.


The doors of Cedar Woman House are now open and any Indigenous women and children fleeing an abusive situation or women that have experienced abuse are encouraged to call 250-591-5580. We have staff on site 24 hours per day and 7 days per week. Women can call with the assistance of a referral worker, family member or make a self-referral.


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