The Gwaii Trust Society owns and manages a multi-million-dollar perpetual fund for the benefit of all the people of Haida Gwaii. The fund generates investment income and the Society distributes part of that income every year through a variety of grant programs.
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
In 1985, after more than a decade of attempts to work with the provincial government to protect the South Moresby Wilderness area, the Haida Nation designated what is now known as Gwaii Haanas, a Haida Heritage Site and a blockade was held on Lyell Island. The political standoff at Lyell Island brought worldwide attention to the issues of the land title dispute, the environment and economic matters. In 1988, the South Moresby Agreement was signed, which designated the area a National Park Reserve and created a Regional Economic Development Initiative fund.
Representatives of the Council of the Haida Nation (CHN) and the Residents Planning Advisory Committee (RPAC) established an Accord on the Community Development Fund. In spite of legislative hostilities and other societal encumbrances to cross-cultural understanding, and after years of difficult work, the results evolved into the Gwaii Trust Interim Planning Society (GTIPS).
The GTIPS was established in accordance with the Society Act of British Columbia in November 1991. Its purpose was to develop a permanent model for a locally controlled, interest-generating fund. The Gwaii Trust Society would be founded on principles to achieving a sustainable Islands community.
The Gwaii Trust Society was formed in September 1994 to operate the perpetual Gwaii Trust Fund, and the GTIPS was dissolved as a society.
The Society started out with $38.2 million contributed by the federal government as part of the South Moresby agreement, the same agreement that created Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site. At the end of 2021 our fund was worth approximately $94 million.
Our goals are clear: to work together to promote the health and well-being of our community, and make Haida Gwaii an even better place to live. We know that to ensure a sustainable community, we must plan and manage our development in ways that reflect our cultural and environmental uniqueness.
Our fund is invested in equities, bonds and mortgage/real estate funds, and generates millions of dollars every year in investment income. Every year, we reinvest part of that income to protect our core value from inflation, and distribute most of the remaining money to communities, non-profit societies and individuals on Haida Gwaii through our grant programs.
The Gwaii Trust Society is provincially registered as a non-profit society to maximize tax exemption for the Trust.
The Gwaii Trust will enhance environmentally sustainable social and economic benefits to Haida Gwaii through the use of the fund.
The Gwaii Trust will advocate and support an Islands community characterized by respect for cultural diversity, the environment, and a sustainable and increasingly self-sufficient economy.
VALUES AND BELIEFS
To ensure a sustainable Islands community we must plan and manage our own development in ways that reflect our cultural and environmental uniqueness.
The Gwaii Trust offers us an opportunity to pursue fundamental economic and social transition. The lack of some of the most basic community infrastructure demands immediate attention. The pursuit of a sustainable community requires us to address and implement responsible stewardship.
The Gwaii Trust offers us an opportunity not readily available to the rest of the world. As individuals we may choose to act together for the common good of our Islands community.
Quality of life is an essential issue. As we make the Islands community a better place to live in, we make it a more desirable place to visit and to conduct business.
The Gwaii Trust Society values and believes in:
- fairness and equity
- effective communication
- willingness to change
- building and demonstrating trust
- an holistic approach to a healthy Islands community
- consensuses decision-making
- collaborative problem solving
In delivering its business plan the Gwaii Trust Society will:
- communicate effectively with Island communities
- provide effective guidance to communities on proposal preparation
- maintain a strong financial management plan that respects its investment policy and is reviewed on a regular basis
- encourage all Islands participation in the Gwaii Trust and its programs
- set consistent criteria for each program
- be guided by principles of fairness and equity
- emphasize programs that will lead to the vision of an Islands community
- follow policies and criteria developed by the Board of Directors
- listen to and consider public input
- not replace or duplicate existing government programs
- encourage partnering with existing programs or agencies to maximize benefits to the Islands
- continue to refine its programs and operations
- attempt to maximize the available funding