Kwantlen First Nation salaries disclosed

Kwantlen First Nation Chief Marilyn Gabriel is shown with her husband Kevin Kelly in a photo taken for The Times several years ago. - Langley Times file photo
Kwantlen First Nation Chief Marilyn Gabriel is shown with her husband Kevin Kelly in a photo taken for The Times several years ago.
— image credit: Langley Times file photo

The chief and councillors of the Kwantlen First Nation were paid as much or more than their counterparts in the neighbouring Township of Langley and the City of Langley, the first-ever public disclosure of First Nations remuneration and expenses reveals.

The information, posted online last month by the federal Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, shows Kwantlen Chief Marilyn Gabriel was paid $106,011, not including expenses, during the most recent fiscal year.

That is about the same as Township mayor Jack Froese, who declared $106,552 in salary for the most recent fiscal year, and more than acting Langley City mayor Ted Schaffer, a member of council who was chosen by his peers to assume the role after incumbent mayor Peter Fassbender was elected to the provincial legislature in May of last year.

During his partial year of service, Schaffer earned $54,188.

Over a full year, the city mayor would make about $80,000, not including expenses.

The two Kwantlen councillors made considerably more than their counterparts at the municipalities.

Councillor Tumia Knott, who is also Kwantlen legal counsel and oversees all business activities of the Seyem’ Qwantlen Business Group, was paid $118,895, while fellow Kwantlen Councillor Les Antone was paid $75,327.

Township of Langley councillors all made around $45,000 to $47,000 in the last fiscal year, while Langley City councillors made from $32,000 to $35,000.

The Kwantlen chief and councillors also pay less in taxes than their municipal counterparts, as residents of First Nations reserve lands are exempt from most taxation.

The Kwantlen First Nation has a total registered population of 249 people, with only 69 living on the Kwantlen lands that cover more than 500 hectares in different locations, mostly within Langley Township. There are also Kwantlen lands in Maple Ridge

The largest single Kwantlen property is on McMillan Island at Fort Langley, where most of the housing and band offices are located.

The federal government also posted an audited financial statement that shows the Kwantlen First Nation reported revenue for the financial year ending March 31 of $11.6 million, including $3.4 million from the provincial government and $2.3 million from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.

Expenses were $9.6 million, including $4.4 million for economic development  and $1 million for administration.

Kwantlen First Nation reported a $2 million surplus for the year.

The information about Kwantlen and other aboriginal administrations across Canada was published for the first time under the new First Nations Financial Transparency Act.

Based on statements filed so far, salaries among B.C. First Nations ranged from the high of the Snuneymuxw First Nation near Nanaimo, where one councillor was paid $315,000, to the low of the Shackan Indian Band near Spences Bridge and Merritt, where the chief collected $13,000 and the two councillors received $9,100.

The biggest payout went to Ron Giesbrecht, the chief and economic development officer of the 80-member Kwikwetlem First Nation in Coquitlam, who earned $914,219, $800,000 of it in the form of a bonus.

At press time, the Kwantlen First Nation had not responded to a Times request for comment.

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