Roles of the Trustees
A TRUST is often established to provide a way of having property held for an individual or a group and allows the trust property to be managed by a trustee or group of trustees.
Regardless of the nature of the property held by the trust, Trustees must manage the trust so that decisions made about the trust's property are made in the best interests of the beneficiaries of the trust.
THE FIRST NATIONS TRUST was established to "effect the distribution of the monies due to First Nations from, among other things, the profits from both SIGA and SGC casinos".
In the case of the First Nations Trust, the Trust is defined by the 2003 Trust Indenture. The Indenture is the result of an agreement made in 2003 between the FSIN and the Province of Saskatchewan. The Property held by the First Nations Trust is defined in the 2003 Trust Indenture and that property is money. The money is received from the net profits of eight casinos, six are under First Nation control and two are under the control of the Province.
What the Trustees can and cannot do with the property held by the Trust is defined by the 2003 Trust Indenture, in conjunction with The Trustees Act, R.S.S 1978. The law also imposes certain obligations on the Trustees, even if these duties are not specifically set out in the Trust Agreement.
Trustee obligations include holding ownership and legal control of the property of the trust. The law requires that the Trustees of the First Nations Trust act only in the best interests of the beneficiaries of the Trust. Another obligation of the Trustees is to appoint a qualified independent auditor to examine the books and records of the First Nations Trust at the end of each fiscal year. The Annual Report must include the audited financial statements of the First Nations Trust for that fiscal year.
A Beneficiary of the First Nation Trust is defined in the 2003 Trust Indenture as a "First Nation, an Indian Band or the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations".
THE POWER AND AUTHORITY of the Trustees as set out in section 8 of the 2003 Trust Indenture, include authority to pay authorized expenses; to retain the services of advisors, professionals or others to assist the Trustees in the performance of their duties; to pay reasonable remuneration to the Trustees for performance of their duties; to follow valid direction from the Chiefs-in-Assembly(Legislative Assembly of the FSIN); and except as limited by the 2003 Trust Indenture, pay out the trust property for the benefit of any one or more of the beneficiaries, or for the benefit of First Nations peoples.
PERMITTED USES of the First Nations Trust property are set out in the 2003 Trust Indenture. For monies distributed by the Trustees, the Trust Indenture requires that the funds must be used for specified purposes for First Nations and First Nations peoples. In accordance with Section 5.01 of the Trust Indenture those permitted uses are:
- Economic development,
- Social programs,
- Justice initiatives,
- Education and education facilities,
- Development and operation of recreation facilities,
- Senior and youth programs,
- Cultural and spiritual development,
- Development and maintenance of community infrastructure,
- Health initiatives,
- Governance activities,
- Treaty protection, and
- Any other charitable purpose.
THE FIRST NATIONS TRUST PROCESS
The Trust's fiscal year begins April 1 and runs until March 31 of the following year. Payments are made to First Nations Trust by the Government Relations pursuant to formulas contained in the 202 Framework Agreement and the profits forecasted by the FSIN's Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA) casinos and the Province's Saskatchewan Gaming Corporation (SGC) casinos. One-fourth of those estimated profits are paid to the First Nations Trust at the end of each quarter.
After the fiscal year has concluded, the Ministry is required to reconcile the forecasted and actual audited net profits from all Casino operations and either pay amounts due from under-forecasting or recover any overpayments from First Nations Trust.
The Trustees must meet at least quarterly to distribute the trust property in accordance with the 2003 Trust Indenture. When the Trustees distribute trust property, they must follow any properly received directions from the FSIN Chief-in-Assembly.
At end of each fiscal year, the Board of Trustees are responsible for ensuring that all the beneficiaries of Trust monies properly account for how these funds were spent.
Section 9 of the 2003 Trust Indenture sets out the accountability provisions. In the event that a recipient or beneficiary of trust property is not able to properly account for the monies, or spent the monies in an inappropriate manner, the Trustees have a fiduciary obligation to the other beneficiaries to take whatever steps are necessary, including withholding future payments, to ensure appropriate accountability by the beneficiaries.