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Okanagan Indian Band describes chief and council roles

Okanagan Indian Band chief Byron Louis
Image Credit: Okanagan Nation Alliance

VERNON - After releasing its chief and council pay, the Okanagan Indian Band is explaining the responsibilities behind the money.

Infonews.ca ran a story last week comparing band council salaries and expenses with its counterparts at the City of Vernon, as well as their respective populations. Band chief Byron Louis issued a statement in response saying it’s not quite so simple.

“You can’t make simple comparisons based off of population,” Louis said. “Canada has a population of about 35 million and Prime Minister Harper makes over $300,000 a year, while the United States has about 313 million and President Obama makes $400,000 a year; it’s not about population, it’s about responsibilities.”

Louis says the chief and council are responsible for all policy relating to programs such as healthcare, education, housing, economic development and territorial stewardship and adds their responsibilities do not end at the boundaries of their reserves or even their traditional territory.

“The needs of our membership often extend beyond the boundaries of our reserves,” Louis said. “We assist band members from Vernon to Vancouver and beyond and that isn’t the case for a municipality.”

In contrast, Louis says municipalities can rely on health authorities, non-profit organizations and school boards to administer health, education, economic development and housing programs.

A special meeting is being planned for the fall to discuss the financial statements with members of the band.

“Remuneration is a matter between elected officials and the people they’re accountable to,” Louis said. “I’ve read about the varying salaries and those are discussions for the communities and their leaders to have.”

“It has been our practice for well over a decade to provide this information to our membership.”

The date and time of the meeting will be announced shortly.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infotelnews.ca or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email mjones@infotelnews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © iNFOnews, 2014

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