Fisher River showed the business world Thursday it has the financial chops to make investors feel secure about investing in developments on its reserve: the Cree community has landed a national certification in financial management.

The financial management system certification indicates the community’s financial and administrative practices are in line with provincial and federal business practices, along with policies that meet best-practice standards for leadership, financial management and transparency.

The designation is separate from obligations First Nations must meet regarding accountability to the federal government under the Indian Act for government-funded services, which range from school boards to housing.

The First Nations Financial Management Board, a not-for-profit financial agency based in British Columbia, works with hundreds of Canada’s First Nations to meet business standards through a multi-tier system of accountability.

Fisher River is reported to be the first in Manitoba and only the sixth First Nation in Canada to achieve the certification, which is the top designation the board awards.

Fisher River announced the achievement Thursday in the community located 170 kilometres north of Winnipeg. Fisher River Chief David Crate hosted a celebratory event with Harold Calla, the executive chairman of the B.C.-based board.

Designations such as this are a big deal in the world of business and finance, said a senior official with MNP LLP, one of the country’s top accounting and tax firms.

Similar groups offer the same kind of services for non-Indigenous cities and institutions. They must all meet similar exacting standards.

“It says to the world, to business partners and financial institutions this is how we conduct our financial affairs, and it provides strength to those partnerships and allows you to expand business opportunities and to attract investment,” said Robert Campbell, MNP’s national director of aboriginal services.

MNP is the largest provider of financial services to Canada’s growing Indigenous business and investment sector.

The certification is earned over a period of time. The First Nations Financial Management Board must supervise a client community, help it set in place policies and administrative practices that meet financial practices and then oversee their development until best-practice business standards are established.

The board is governed under federal law. The 2006 First Nations Fiscal Management Act is optional for First Nations. It established three First Nation institutions to develop practical, modern-day tools already used by other levels of government in Canada and provide these tools to First Nations governments.

By: Alexandra Paul (Winnipeg Free Press)


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