(Gwaii Trust Society)

Athlii Gwaii Legacy Trust nears relaunch

Gwaii Trust reports over $2.5 million in project spending for 2017, and solid investment returns

Like a cedar seedling in a forest full of hungry deer, the Athlii Gwaii Legacy Trust got a rough start in life.

But after surviving the Great Recession and a tangle of red tape, the once-troubled trust is now worth about $45 million and it’s very close to finally joining its big sister Gwaii Trust in funding grant programs on Haida Gwaii.

For Carla Lutner, chief operating officer for Gwaii Trust, that day has been just over the horizon for about four years.

“I’m so sick of telling people it’s really close!” she said.

Since March of 2014, the Gwaii Trust Society has been working with the B.C. and federal governments to try and resolve a legal problem with the way the Athlii Gwaii legacy Trust was set up in 2007.

Basically, the trust started with an improper mix of charitable and non-charitable purposes. Among other things, that put its tax-free status at risk.

To restart it on a better, tax-free footing, directors for the Gwaii Trust Society at first suggested making the Athlii Gwaii Legacy Trust into a stand-alone not-for-profit.

But late last year, the federal government said it would be better and simpler to bring it under the Gwaii Trust umbrella — both trust funds share a mandate to boost social and economic development on Haida Gwaii, and running two under one roof would save administrative costs.

On May 1, the Council of the Haida Nation, the Gwaii Trust Society and two more trustees for the Athlii Gwaii Legacy Trust sent a letter to both governments saying they support the idea.

Once they get formal letters back showing that the B.C. and federal governments agree with the new set-up, the Athlii Gwaii Legacy Trust can finally go into action.

Directors of the Gwaii Trust Society have talked about how the revived fund could help foster value-added forestry on island, as well as retraining for other opportunities.

“Those are some of the ideas, because the economy has shifted,” said Lutner.

“But they do want to consult with the communities, to come back and see what’s expected of this fund.”

Besides the coming re-launch of the Athlii Gwaii Legacy Trust and some excellent cupcakes, good news at the recent Gwaii Trust AGM in Port Clements came from a few headline numbers.

First, Gwaii Trust funded just over $2.5 million in grants in 2017.

In fact, Gwaii Trust had budgeted up to $3.8 million for projects, but several Haida Gwaii communities are either strategically saving up their annual $250,000 Vibrant Communities grants, or they are still unsure how to spend them.

“Many of the communities are banking their funding toward larger projects and doing some strategic planning around what they feel the best bang for their buck would be,” Lutner said.

Some of the other large grants from 2017 included $100,000 toward the Haida language film Edge of the Knife; $182,000 toward new water mains in Masset; and a total of $130,000 for local food banks, school meals and other food-security programs on island.

Smaller grants supported everything from an exhibition of artwork by Katie Borserio to new firefighting gear in Sandspit, a new housing co-ordinator in Old Massett, and flights for the young Skidegate Saints who visited New Zealand on a Maori basketball and culture exchange.

A full list is of the 2017 projects is available in Gwaii Trust’s annual report.

In other news, the Gwaii Trust fund earned $7.3 million last year from a range of stocks, bonds, mortgage and real-estate investments — an annual return of 8.4 per cent.

Along with grants, those earnings allowed Gwaii Trust to cover nearly $2.5 million in costs.

Out of the total $4.9 million Gwaii Trust spent last year, 52 per cent went to projects while 23 per cent was spent on inflation protection, 15 per cent on administration, and 10 per cent on investment management.

Looking ahead, Lutner is eager to see the results of a Gwaii Trust-funded labour market study due in June.

Economic development is complicated, she said, but the study should shine some light on the challenges here.

“There is no one shining example of something that would turn the economy of Haida Gwaii from a resource-based economy to something more economically diverse,” she said.

Lutner also said she doesn’t think the Gwaii Trust can solve any of the islands’ economic problems by itself.

“We really depend on partnerships, and we really depend on a collaborative spirit — not a ‘you should’ but a ‘we can,’” she said.

“We can accomplish much more together than apart.”

Just Posted

Haida Gwaii and Bella Bella organizations receive funding for arts and culture

The Community Resilience Through Arts and Culture funded 83 organizations across B.C. this year

Fire ban back in effect for Northwest Fire Centre region

Starting May 24, both Category 2 and Category 3 prohibitions will be in place

This summer Masset RCMP will give positive tickets to youths

More than a dozen community partners are involved in encouraging good behaviour once school is out

New Seven Sisters replacement confirmed

Mental health facility will have 25 beds, up from 20 in current facility

Terrace hospital’s business plan approved

Health Minister’s announcement opens door to construction phase

New airline regulations bring compensation for tarmac delays, over-bookings

Some of the new regulations will roll out in July, while others are expected for December.

B.C. port workers set to strike on Monday in Vancouver

A strike at two container terminals would affect Canadian trade to Asia

Scheer says it would take Conservatives five years to balance budget

Scheeraccused the Liberal government of spending $79.5 billion of previously unbudgeted funds

B.C. man, 30, arrested for driving his parents’ cars while impaired twice in one day

The Vancouver-area man was arrested after officers caught him driving impaired twice in one day

More than half of Canadians support ban on handguns, assault rifles: study

Divide between rural and urban respondents in latest Angus Reid Institute public opinion study

Spring rain needed as B.C. sees one of the lowest snowpack levels in 40 years

Snowpack levels in B.C. recorded on May 15 were similar to those in 2015 and 2016

Theresa May to quit as party leader June 7, sparking race for new PM

The new Conservative leader will become prime minister without the need for a general election

B.C. man who fell off cliff returns there to rescue eagle from vulture attack

Nanaimo’s James Farkas, who broke his hip in a fall, saves eagle on same beach months later

Raptors beat Bucks 105-99 to move within 1 game of NBA Finals

Leonard scores 35 as Toronto takes 3-2 series lead over Milwaukee

Most Read