Gwaii Trust making money, and faster

  • Apr. 10, 2013 10:00 a.m.

The Gwaii Trust made more money in the last four months of 2012 than it did in the entire previous fiscal year, according to financial statements presented at the society’s annual general meeting Saturday (April 6). The net surplus for the four-month period ending Dec. 31, 2012 was almost $2.7 million, compared to just under $2.1 million in the year ended Aug. 31, 2012. Most of the most recent surplus came from a $2.4 million increase in the value of the Gwaii Trust’s investments between September and December, executive director Errol Winter explained. “We’ve had a bit of a good run in the markets,” Mr. Winter said. “The markets have come back… We can’t expect that always, but we’ve been fortunate.” Mr. Winter said the Gwaii Trust is now worth roughly $70 million, about what it was before the markets crashed in 2008. The Gwaii Trust’s good fortune is being shared with its investment partner, the Tl’azt’en First Nation, which has invested $1 million with the trust. During the four-month period ended Dec. 31, the Tl’azt’en share of investment income was $57,840; its original investment has now grown to almost $1.2 million. Saturday’s meeting, held in Old Massett, was the second annual general meeting the Gwaii Trust has held in the past four months. The organization has just changed its year-end to Dec. 31, and had to hold a meeting to approve the financial statements for the four-month long “stub year” between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31. “This is probably the shortest time period for an AGM in the history of Haida Gwaii,” said chair Brad Setso, as he welcomed the public to the meeting. “It just made more sense to have our year-end Dec. 31.” Along with Mr. Setso and Mr. Winter, the meeting was attended by directors John T. Jones, Fran Redick, Shelley Sansome, Berry Wijdeven, Cynthia Samuels, and James Cowpar and alternates Harold Yeltatzie, Jacques Morin, Godfrey Williams and Karen McMurray. Ms Sansome held proxies for the two directors who couldn’t attend, Moresby Island’s Kristi Schmitz and Skidegate/CHN’s Percy Crosby. Meanwhile, the Gwaii Forest Charitable Trust, which is controlled by the Gwaii Trust, has reached a value of $30.9 million and should soon be in a position to distribute grants. The Gwaii Forest Charitable Trust has been inactive for the past several years to allow it to recover from the market collapse of 2008. The GFCT, which already has a year-end of Dec. 31, had an excellent year in 2012, earning $2.7 million in investment income and gains in the value of its investment portfolio, compared to $1.6 million in 2011. After deducting expenses for investment management, administration and inflation protection, the forest fund ended the year with a surplus of $2.2 million, compared to a surplus of $737,000 in 2011.