Seabird Island recently released the annual report for 2019-2020. The following is a brief rundown of the highlights of Seabird Island’s 81-page report.
Chief Clem Seymour
Then-Chief Clem Seymour thanked the community for their continued hard work toward the growth and success of Seabird Island over the years.
“Even as we continue to prosper and gain recognition for our work in many areas, we know there is always more to do,” Chief Seymour wrote. He highlighted the forward momentum of the business park as clearing and construction began that year.
Chief Seymour’s focus that year was commitment to recognition and reconciliation by working with several governments.
“My highlight is …working with the governments to find out what is talked about and bring it back to our people so they can find out what it means to them,” he wrote. “To me, recognition and reconciliation starts on the ground with us, not them.”
“We are keepers of the land and community for our grandchildren, protecting the land ensures a future for them,” Chief Seymour concluded. “The work we do, we do for the benefit of Seabird Island; both now and in the future. Building unity is one of our strengths and this is work that we can all take part in.”
Seabird Island Councillor Rod Peters said Seabird College was proud that nearly 80 certificates went to graduates in fall 2019.
“With certificates in hand, the graduates can proudly step into the world of work to put their newly acquired skills and knowledge to use,” Coun. Peters wrote. The graduates are prepared to enter a number of fields, including carpentry, construction, heavy mechanics, painting, professional cooking and commercial driving.
“Education is important to Seabird to consistently support our students,” Coun. Stacy McNeil wrote. “A higher education opens doors for for them for employment areas that will support their families in the long run.”
Seabird Island has approximately 330 employees as of this report, 124 of which are in health and social development. Education and early childhood education were the next most prolific employers of the community with 80 and 46 employees, respectively.
2019 ended with 297 employees, and the community’s employee base grew by more than 30 to 335 as of September 2020.
Financial Director Nigel Selvadurai reported increased revenue and number of programs in this annual report. Selvadurai attributed partial success to the transition to a 10-year grant funding agreement between Seabird Island and Indigenous Service Canada.
Revenue topped $40 million, continuing a steady climb seen since 2016. A bulk of the revenue came from the Health and Social Department, comprising about 33 per cent of the year’s revenue at $14 million. Education and band entities each brought in about $9.5 million, or around 22 per cent. The expense statistics almost mirror the revenue with Health and Social being responsible for $13.6 million in expenses (35 per cent), education at nearly $9.5 million (25 per cent) and band entities at $8.5 million (about 22 per cent).
Records management took their “Go Green” initiative seriously, recycling 8 tons of paper (16,000 pounds or 7,257 kilograms). This equates to roughly 136 trees and 73,000 kilowatts of energy saved.
In information technology, Seabird Island staff has upgraded servers and other important equipment. Thanks to their completion of the Last-Mile project, 95 per cent of Seabird Island hopes are connected.
Communications put their emergency preparedness and response skills to the test during the 2018-2019 year. The harsh winter knocked out power and froze and burst pipes at the Band Office.
“The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) worked diligently and quickly to minimize disruption to our staff and services to Seabird Island,” the communications team wrote.
When the pandemic set in, the communications team played and continues to play a critical role in distributing information online and door-to-door.
The Seabird Island Fire Department attended 36 calls between April 2019 to the end of March 2020, 35 of which were on Seabird Island lands.
The 2019 Seabird Island Festival – then in its 50th year – saw an attendance of more than 5,000 people with 65 soccer teams, six baseball teams, 15 canoe clubs and 16 vendors. In September 61 people attended and participated in the Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation Council canoe/kayak provincial championships. The athletes were competing for a spot in the Indigenous Games, which was postponed due to the pandemic.
The Pandemic, Leadership and Community
Selvadurai said the transition to working remotely due to the pandemic was difficult at first, but day-to-day operations, at least as far as finances go, ultimately ran smoothly with no major interruptions.
Coun. Alexis Grace briefly touched on COVID-19, expressing her gratitude to Chief Seymour for his teachings and the community as a whole for their coming together – metaphorically speaking – during the pandemic.
“We have witnessed countless acts of selflessness from community champions supporting one another to maintain this collective identity,” Coun. Grace wrote. “Staff and teams continue to work tirelessly, connecting with Community, reaching out to Members that are away from home, ensuring that people are safe.”
”We came from great strength and we will move forward in all areas with the same strength our ancestors intended for our future,” she continued Thank you to everyone for all the work accomplished over the past year and thank you to every individual that has shared with me their story or their truth. I value your trust, your voice, your guidance and your confidence more than I can express.”
Read the full report online at www.seabirdisland.ca.
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