By Carla Lutner, Chief Operations Officer
On April 28, our board of directors and staff held our annual general meeting in Port Clements. This is an opportunity for us to tell islanders about how the trust fund is doing financially, what we funded last year, and what issues we’re facing in the future – as well as answer questions from the public. A total of 27 members of the public attended the AGM. Thank you to Port Clements for being our host community this year – the community hall was a welcoming spot for the meeting.
Here’s a few of the financial highlights we shared at the AGM. During 2017, the fund continued to grow, with an annual rate of return of 8.4% - a little bit higher than the past two years. The Gwaii Trust, which started out as a $38.2 million fund in 1994, was worth $83.9 million at the end of 2017. The fund generates interest, part of which we spend on projects and grants to benefit Haida Gwaii. The rest of the interest is reinvested in the fund to protect it from inflation, and spent on administration and investment management. During the past year, we awarded $2.5 million in grants, including $650,000 in Major Contributions grants to local governments and non-profit groups; $130,880 for local Food Security initiatives; and $90,000 for the three youth outdoor camps on the islands. We also awarded 238 Continuing Education grants to help islanders who are pursuing post-secondary education, and 193 Travel grants to help people and teams attend off-island events, educational opportunities, and tournaments.
The Gwaii Trust is managed by a local board of directors with equal Haida and non-Haida representation. At our AGM, directors Bret Johnston, representing Graham Island North; Cecil Brown, representing Old Massett Village Council; Billy Yovanovich, representing Skidegate Band Council; and Clyde Greenough, representing Graham Island South were renewed for another two years. We also recognized outgoing Graham Island South alternate Al West, and welcomed the new alternate, Devin Rachar. Devin moved to Haida Gwaii in 2015 and works for HaiCo, helping manage various certification programs for HaiCo subsidiaries. He lives in Queen Charlotte and was elected last year as a councillor for that village. He is also a director for the Misty Isles Economic Development Society. Welcome to the board, Devin!
The cover of this year’s annual report featured a design of a Chief’s Chair, now on display at the Haida Gwaii Museum. Inside, there are stories about some of the projects we funded last year, like the school district’s “Identity Maps” art show, and solar panels at the Haida Heritage Centre and three remote youth camps. The annual report was also distributed to mailboxes island wide earlier this month.