Photo above: Gary Nott from the First Nations Financial Management Board presents Chief Dean Nelson with Líl̓wat Nation’s Financial Management Systems certificate June 20, 2016, at the Squamish-Lillooet Cultural Centre.

The Líl̓wat Nation has become the first First Nation in Western Canada to receive Financial Management Systems (FMS) Certification from the First Nations Financial Management Board (FNFMB). The certification provides the framework for sound financial practices regarding the operation, management and reporting of the financial management systems of First Nations governments.

“The FMS certification acknowledges the progress the Líl̓wat Nation community has made in strengthening its financial systems,” says former CFO Neil McInnes. “It gives us the ability to be more transparent with our partners, funders, government agencies and the community. And the certification will allow the nation to further develop economic opportunities because of increased access to affordable long-term debt.”

The FMS certification is the end result of a process McInnes began to implement when he joined Líl̓wat Nation in 2012. As CFO, McInnes focused on strengthening the nation’s financial procedures, increasing the capacity of the Finance and Administration Department team and developing new policies that ensure best practices.

“The FNFMB worked closely with Chief and Council of the Líl̓wat Nation in their development of a financial administration law that was given compliance approval in March 2013,” confirms Harold Calla, Executive Chair of the FNFMB.

“The FMS certification is recognition of all the hard work our senior leadership team has done to ensure that the nation is seen as being financially responsible,” said McInnes. “Fulfilling the requirements of the FMS, which included implementing a Financial Administration Law and overhauling human resources and IT policies, shows the strength of our systems, and our governance.”

“Receiving this FNFMB certification is something we can all be proud of,” says Líl̓wat Nation CAO Ernest Armann. “FMS Certification reflects the strength of our financial administration system, one which will continue to open the door to greater economic opportunity for Líl̓wat.”

Mr. Calla adds, “The commitment made by Lil’wat Nation demonstrates their understanding of the wisdom of investing in themselves. This FMS Certification will support their participation in the mainstream economy. It will also build stakeholders’ confidence in their operations and allow their access to the pooled borrowing opportunity now available to First Nations through the First Nations Finance Authority.”

A ceremony recognizing this groundbreaking achievement for the Líl̓wat Nation was held June 20, 2016, at the Squamish Líl̓wat Cultural Centre in Whistler, British Columbia. Chiefs and Council were on hand to receive this important financial certification.