Band council trying to make Kaay centre self-sustaining

  • Feb. 4, 2011 6:00 p.m.

By Heather Ramsay–Getting the Haida Heritage Centre into an economically self-sustaining position has been the Skidegate Band Council’s number one priority said chief councillor Robert Mills at the recent Haida Gwaii Protocol meeting. Mr. Mills was reporting on the activities of the Skidegate Band Council to the rest of the islands’ leaders at the January 26 meeting held at Kaay Centre in Skidegate. Mr. Mills said a new, active board is in place, an interim operations manager has been hired and they are still seeking donors for an endowment fund, all with the goal of ensuring the facility becomes self sustaining. “It’s a daunting task, but not an impossible one,” he said. The Observer talked with him several days after the meeting to find out more. Mr. Mills said the Heritage Centre can not rely on tourism alone and has been transitioning into an education centre in the off-season. He says the Haida Gwaii Higher Education Society semester and Northwest Community College are part of that. He added that HGHES is looking at offering a Fall semester too, so that fits with the HHC’s plans. Not only do class rentals provide revenue, but the students also purchase food at the facility’s restaurant. Other plans include working with HaiCo to offer a tourism operation out of the Haida Heritage Centre and bringing the Haida Watchmen program office into the building. The Skidegate Band Council has also been given $1.6 million by the Gwaii Trust’s Haida Parity fund to cover capital cost overruns from the construction of the facility and ongoing operations deficits, he said. These funds will not cover ongoing operational costs, he said, and revenue-generation is still necessary for the centre to be self-sustaining. Searching for donations for the $10 million endowment fund campaign continues, he said. Two potential donors have been approached, but weren’t in a position to contribute at this time, said Mr. Mills. With an endowment fund, the interest from the money would be able to provide operating dollars to the centre. The new board has been in place since 2010, said Mr. Mills, and is a mix of band councillors, Haida Gwaii Museum directors, Council of the Haida Nation, hereditary chiefs and two members at large. These at-large positions are still vacant and the board is looking to fill them. Mr. Tanu Lusignan has been hired as the interim operations manager. Mr. Mills acknowledged the work of Duane Alsop who has been filling the gap, since operations manager Jason Alsop left the islands to complete a one year internship with the provincial Ministry of Tourism, Sports and the Arts. The other board members are: Skidegate Band Council: Robert Mills, Duane Alsop, James Cowpar; Haida Gwaii Museum: Amanda Reid-Stevens, Leslie Johnson; Council of the Haida Nation: Cindy Boyko; Hereditary Chiefs: Ron Wilson.

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