Dear Editor:

Have you ever been asked to sign an attendance sheet at a community gathering and subsequently found out that your name was included in a grant application without your knowledge or permission?

I am fairly new to the valley and I read the papers. Out of interest, I made a New Years resolution to go to some community meetings to find out what is going on and how things work around Invermere.

One of the meetings I attended as an interested citizen was the Columbia Valley Recreation Access Coalition (CVRAC). While there, I was asked to sign an attendance sheet with my name, sector and email. I was reluctant as I was not with a sector but was told it was so I could receive the minutes of the meeting.

It came to light a few meetings later that the attendance sheet had been taken and attached to a grant application for Wildsight a completely separate organization. Wildsight listed the coalition as a sponsored organization. My name was taken and used without my knowledge, permission or approval.

Outraged and concerned, I subsequently wrote a letter asking for written confirmation from the coalition and Wildsight that my name has not been or will not be shared/used for any other applications or purposes. I have yet to receive this written confirmation from Wildsight. This causes me concern. Not getting written answers to my very specific questions has led to more questions ones I hope the government will ask.

The grant system is big business and a list of names attached gives credibility to applications. Some charitable organizations have paid staff (professionals) who spend a good amount of their time just applying for grants. In many cases, grants come from our tax dollars. It would be presumptuous for charities to assume everyone agrees with their agendas.

Should our local government and Canada Revenue Agency look a lot closer at how these organizations do business? When protest letters, postcards, and grants are submitted, how do we know whose names are on them? If we put our name on a simple sign-in sheet, how do we know where our names have gone? Where is the disclosure?

If this is the way business is done, I am glad the Ministry has withdrawn from the coalitions backcountry talks.

Mary Anne Csokonay