The Williams Lake Indian Band understands the importance of increasing source revenues as federal funding remains stagnant and even dwindles. Without additional funds, the band cannot grow or plan for the future. Own source revenue in the forms of taxation plays a vital role. In Williams Lake, Gailene William is taking on this role in addition to her job as the payroll/benefits administration clerk. Recently, we were able to sit down with Gailene and get her perspective on Tulo and Taxation.
How did you become enrolled in Tulo?
Our finance manager asked me if I was interested in taking the course at Tulo. Not really knowing what I was getting into, I dove right into the training without having any previous exposure to taxation but realized it would benefit me in my job and most of all, our community. I started in the fall of 2015, and took my final course in February 2017.
How does what you learned at the Tulo Centre help you in your work with Williams Lake Indian Band?
Many communities are beginning to realize taxation is the key to a better life. It isn’t something we should fear, but a way to create a better future. Managing taxation wisely for the nation requires education and practical training. To succeed, nations need a thorough knowledge of the ins and outs of the First Nation Fiscal Management Act and members who understand the band’s vision.
Being part of the Tulo experience has given me a broader outlook on the benefits of taxation and a properly running tax administration program and made me more confident in both the administration and education of taxation for WLIB.
What has been the most valuable aspect about the program for you so far?
Well the course work has been most valuable but thanks to Tulo a big part is that I now have contacts from other communities that I met in class who I can email or call for assistance and that’s really helped in creating my support network. Its allowed me to see what other communities are doing and learn from each other in addition to the time we spend in the class.
How does taxation fit into your community’s future?
I believe First Nation land taxation benefits a community and helps provide own source revenue – most communities financial planning is based on third-party funding agreements but when you also can add in other revenue, with no funding guidelines attached, you are able to look longer term. So in that essence, everyone benefits from it depending on how you budget your tax revenue. From opportunities for building new infrastructure to adding or enhancing programs and services that affect elders and youth, everyone benefits from tax revenue in our community. Tulo has been an excellent experience and it has also been a real challenge. “Introduction to First Nation Taxation” was the first exposure I’ve had to First Nation land taxation but attending Tulo has helped me greatly in all areas.
Also like many of our communities, at WLIB staff wear multiple hats and we also have our personal commitments to consider – for myself being a mom of three children I had a hard time leaving my kids for a week at a time for each of the eight classes. But thanks to some wonderful classmates and wonderful family who took care of my babies, I made it through each class and have made it through the end.