Editors note: This letter to the editor was received prior to the results of the Shuswap Bands November 7th election, in which Paul Sam was not re-elected.
I read with, sadness and dismay, the article in last weeks Pioneer highlighting the disproportionate earnings of Chief Paul Sam and Councillor Alice Sam of the Shuswap Indian Band. Unfortunately, I cannot say I was completely surprised, surprised by the extent of the abuse of power and control, yes, but not by the fact that the abuse is occurring. And without the enactment of Bill C-27, the First Nations Financial Transparency Act, we wouldnt be engaged in this discussion. Speculation would continue respecting the salaries of Band Council and senior staff, as it has for the past few decades, but with no access to audited financial information, it would continue to be quite simply rumour. This now is a new era.
Chief Sams tax-free 2014 earnings are $202,413 (as were Councillor Sams), add approximately 40 per cent to that to account for the lack of taxation and his earnings are in the neighbourhood of $280,000. To put it in perspective, Mayor Greg Robertson from the City of Vancouver earned $154,347 before taxes.
Kinbasket Development Corporations CEO, Dean Martin (Chief Sam and Councillor Sams son) who earned $1.6 million from 2011 through 2013 (2014 as yet unreported) rationalizes these salaries as these guys run $75,000,000 worth of assets. I would be very curious to see an enumerated list of these assets and how they are incorporated into the Shuswap Bands financial documents. Not being privy to this information, I would have to surmise that these assets include land, buildings and infrastructure operated and managed by local businesses. True, these assets do generate substantial tax revenue for the Band, but I dont imagine there is a lot of running to be done.
As to Mr. Martins assertion that the Shuswap Band is one of the richest bands. Again, are there financial documents to substantiate this claim or is he just playing fast and loose with unquantifiable generalizations? If indeed there is evidence to validate this claim, now would be the time to lay it on the table to dissipate the mounting anxiety and distrust.
I challenge Mr. Martin, as Chief Sams apparent spokesperson, to hold a public meeting and provide a complete financial accounting to the Shuswap Band membership. If the facts are as he states, there is no reason not to report to the membership. They deserve strong leadership, fairness and accountability.
Dawn Chabot Attorp