Ozîja Thiha Legacy Trust

FOR OUR PRESENT & FUTURE GENERATIONS AND THE FINANCIAL SECURITY OF THE BEARSPAW FIRST NATION AND ITS MEMBERSHIP

NEWSLETTER

Bearspaw Capital Trust BEARSPAW Money Transfer Newsletter

A Publication of the Bearspaw First Nation January 2021

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MESSAGE FROM
CHIEF DARCY DIXON AND COUNCIL

To all members of Bearspaw First Nation

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MESSAGE FROM
CHIEF DARCY DIXON AND COUNCIL

To all members of Bearspaw First Nation

Dear Members:

As Chief and on behalf of each member of Council we are pleased to announce that the Bearspaw First Nation has been successful in negotiating the proposed transfer of all Bearspaw Capital Moneys, present and future, to an independent trust fund established and controlled by Bearspaw First Nation from the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. For further clarity, this is Bearspaw First Nation’s per capita share of the Stoney Nakoda Capital Moneys currently administered by Canada.

This new development represents many years of hard work and persistence by the leadership of Bearspaw with the support of our Elders and members.

In the past, the Stoney people were unprepared for the tremendous influx of royalty revenue that was paid to us. In attempting to help our members in the most direct way possible, hundreds of millions of dollars have been paid out to our members for per capita distributions, housing and other purposes.

It appears that we forgot about saving and investing a portion of the royalty money from our non-renewable resources for our future generations. However, it is not too late.

Our Nation intends to invest the money we have saved from the sale of our non-renewable resources, so that when the resources are gone, we will continue to enjoy the social, economic and financial wealth we have been blessed with.

The Bearspaw Nation’s goal to achieve economical self-sufficiency will be significantly advanced and enhanced with the establishment of the Ozîja Thiha Legacy Trust.

The proposed transfer of Capital Moneys to Ozîja Thiha Legacy Trust will stand for the protection and growth of Bearspaw First Nation assets for Bearspaw children, grandchildren and children yet to be born.

- Chief Darcy Dixon

KEY POINTS

REGARDING THE PROPOSED TRANSFER BEARSPAW CAPITAL MONEYS:

• A trust fund is being created by Bearspaw First Nation for the benefit of both present and future generations of the Nation and has been named the Ozîja Thiha Legacy Trust.

• The term “Capital Moneys” is defined by the Indian Act but in our case generally refers to royalty payments made on the sale natural gas production from Stoney-Nakoda lands.

• The Ozîja Thiha Legacy Trust would be managed by a board of professional trustees who collectively have had many years of experience in governance and managing large amounts of money. All trustees would be independent from Chief and Council and the Nation.

• The yearly revenue of the Trust will replace the semi-annual interest payments that the Nation currently receives from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.

• The Trustees will be required to invest the Capital Moneys in accordance with a trust deed so that:
   a) The original value of the Trust will be protected from inflation and will grow to meet the needs of the Nation:
   b) The yearly revenue provided to Bearspaw First Nation will rise over time as the value of the Trust grows.

• The Trust Fund has been designed in a similar way to the Samson Cree Nation’s Kisoniyaminaw Heritage Trust Fund, Ermineskin’s Neyaskweyahk Trust Fund and the Onion Lake’s Heritage Trust Fund. In 2005, the Samson membership agreed to transfer all $350 million of Samson’s Capital Moneys administered by Canada to an independent trust. This Trust has been successfully operating for over 16 years. It has grown its Capital to $500 million and provided over $120 million in Revenue.

• In 2011, the Ermineskin membership agreed to transfer $240 million to an independent trust. This Trust has been successfully operating for over 9 years. It has grown its Capital to $375 million and provided over $100 million in Revenue. Onion Lake Trust was started four years ago and also has done well. All these Trusts have earned significantly more money than would have been earned had the moneys been left under the control of the Government of Canada (INAC).

• Further information will be distributed in the near future to explain the process in relation to the proposed capital moneys transfer. Bearspaw membership will have the chance to inform and educate themselves about their new trust fund.

Ozîja Thiha Legacy Trust

The purpose of the trust fund and basic facts. (2020)

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Neyaskweyahk TRUST

Annual Report (2019)

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POTENTIAL BENEFITS

OF CAPITAL MONEYS TRANSFER TO OZÎJA THIHA LEGACY TRUST

The transfer of moneys will be an important exercise of Bearspaw’s Treaty, aboriginal and inherent rights as a self-determining Treaty Nation under Treaty no. 7.

Bearspaw will have the opportunity to obtain a higher rate of return compared to the extremely low rate of return paid for many years on Stoney/Bearspaw Capital Moneys by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.

Currently the annual rate of return paid by Government of Canada on Stoney/Bearspaw Capital Moneys is approximately 1.1% per year. The rate of inflation in Canada 2020 is 2.3% which means that the Bearspaw Nation is actually losing money by leaving their moneys with the Government of Canada.

Growth of Bearspaw’s moneys through an independent trust and the additional revenues generated would assist to offset costs associated with Bearspaw’s rapidly growing population and the expanding needs of the membership.

The Ozîja Thiha Legacy Trust will require that a detailed annual report be provided to the Bearspaw membership together with audited financial statements. The Government of Canada has never reported in a proper way to Bearspaw or the Stoney Nakoda Nation in relation to the management of our Capital Moneys.

The establishment of a Ozîja Thiha Legacy Trust would provide a financial vehicle to build wealth, for not only present but also for future generations.The Trust would not negatively affect or diminish the Treaty and aboriginal rights of Bearspaw First Nation and its members.

The transfer of Capital Moneys would represent a milestone in Bearspaw Nation’s struggle to assert its sovereignty, Treaty and self-determining status and create a legacy fund for present and future generations of Bearspaw members.

BEARSPAW CHIEF AND COUNCIL

2020
Order in left to right:
Councillor Anthony Bearspaw
Councillor Rex Daniels
Chief Darcy Dixon
Councillor Pierre Lefthand
Councillor Rod Hunter

MESSAGES

CHIEF RANDY ERMINESKIN MA, BA
ERMINESKIN CREE NATION – MASKWACIS
Greetings to the leadership and to all of the members of the Bearspaw First Nation.

I wish to take this opportunity to congratulate you on the creation and establishment of your Ozîja Thiha Legacy Trust. I am confident that as your trust fund grows over time it will provide the much needed financial stability to your Nation for present and future generations of members of the Bearspaw First Nation.

The Ermineskin Cree Nation settled our Neyaskweyahk Trust almost 10 years ago and it has become a real success story and important economic component of our Nation.

Hiy Hiy
J. WILTON LITTLECHILD QC, IPC, OC, AOE
FORMER GRAND CHIEF OF TREATY SIX CONFEDERACY
It has been my great honour to sit as a trustee of the Kisoniyaminaw Heritage Trust Fund of the Samson Cree Nation for the past sixteen (16) years. This fund has now grown to $500 M.

I have witnessed first hand the positive things a legacy trust can bring to a First Nation. This includes my own Nation Ermineskin through our Neyaskweyahk Trust started ten years ago.

My congratulations to the members of the Bearspaw First Nation on the decision to create your Ozîja Thiha Legacy Trust.

This is a significant advancement on your Right to Self-Determination as provided for in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights on Indigenous Peoples and implementation of Treaty No. 7. Best regards to all. Willie
OKIMAW (CHIEF) HENRY LEWIS – MEd,BEd
ONION LAKE CREE NATION – SASKATCHEWAN
For those of us First Nations blessed with non-renewable resources such as oil & gas we must find a way to preserve and build our wealth not only for the present but also future generations. It is my understanding that the Bearspaw First Nation has recently set up the Ozîja Thiha Legacy Trust for this purpose.

The Onion Lake Cree Nation settled our Wicekaskosiw Sahkahikan Askiwi-Pimiy Heritage Trust Fund in 2016. Control of our moneys through our trust fund is a symbol and concrete action of our self-determination as a sovereign Treaty Nation. We have obtained considerably higher rates of return on our moneys compared to those that were being paid by Canada which is of great benefit to our Nation.

We send our best wishes from Onion Lake Cree Nation to all of the members of the Bearspaw First Nation on this historical and important development for your Nation.

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