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AFN chiefs asked to consider resolution put forth by AFOA.

Quebec City

The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) held its annual general assembly from July 14 to July 17, beginning with the organization's annual golf tournament and ending with a call for support of resolutions on issues important to First Nations communities across the country.

The Aboriginal Financial Officers Association of Canada (AFOA) has put forward a resolution asking the chiefs gathered in Quebec City to recognize the important role played by the AFOA of Canada and AFOA Chapters to enhance Aboriginal financial management throughout the country.

The resolution recommends that First Nations members obtain financial and management training through AFOA Canada and to attain the Certified Aboriginal Financial Manager (CAFM) professional designation.

The AFOA also asks that the professional designation of the CAFM be recognized as the preferred credential when First Nations are hiring personnel in financial management positions.

Finally, the AFOA requests that the chiefs lobby Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) to make funding available to First Nations to get adequate financial and management training to improve skills and build capacity within their communities.

Ten years ago, the federal government responded to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples in its report Gathering Strength--Canada's Aboriginal Action Plan.

In Gathering Strength, the government identified capacity development in financial management and accountability as a critical pre-condition to self governement. With this in mind, the AFN and the Certified General Accountants of Canada (CGA) worked together, and what resulted from that work was the founding of the AFOA as a not-for-profit association to enhance Aboriginal financial policies and management skills.

The AFOA has worked to become the centre for excellence and innovation in Aboriginal finance and management.

The president and chief operating officer of the AFOA, Ernie Daniels, said the AFOA is now a world leader in its field.

"I believe we're the only non-political national organization that addresses financial management capacity," Daniels explained. "There are a few other similar types of organizations in other countries, notably the U.S.., but they're actually nowhere near where we are in terms of a certification process for individuals. The CAFM designation is the only designation in the world of its kind that we know that exists today."

The AFOA, headquartered in Ottawa, has chapters operating in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Manitoba, the Northwest Territories, Atlantic Canada and Quebec.

A board of directors manages each chapter and keeps their fingers on the financial pulse of their region.

"We have a proven track record. Over the last four or five years our memberships have tripled. We attract annually over 800 to our conference," which was held this year in Montreal last February.

Daniels spoke optimistically about the resolution before the chiefs in assembly, saying it is a signal to First Nations of the requirement for competent, effective financial managers in today's environment and the need for capacity development in financial management in First Nations communities.

It is believed that if the AFN passes the resolution, it would be a positive and powerful step towards sustaining financial stability in Native communities. (The resolution was heard the day after Windspeaker went to press. Check the AFN's Web site for results at www.afn.ca.)

"I think our communities are going to benefit with a better quality of life for sure," said Daniels. "And they're in a position to implement the requirements for effective financial management and to establish effective financial management systems, which I believe are going to be key to the future of the communities' well-being financially, as well as attracting government funding."

Daniels is concerned about the turbulent times Aboriginals continue to face.

"The environment the First Nations are facing now [with land claims, treaty and other settlements having been negotiated], the economic opportunities they're involved in are becoming really complex."

He said AFOA training can help untangle the complexities on the financial side of things. Individuals that hold the CAFM designation are the most qualified to help First Nations meet the challenges of a more complex financial environment as they work towards economic independence and self-sufficiency, Daniels said. He hopes that young people are encouraged to look to financial management as careers that can be varied, exciting and fulfilling.

And maybe they will stay home in their communities "and help to make that difference."

The AFOA Web site offers information, education and opportunities. To learn more about the AFOA, go to www.afoa.ca.

By Thomas J. Bruner

Windspeaker Writer
COPYRIGHT 2008 Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta (AMMSA)
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Title Annotation:[news]
Author:Bruner, Thomas J.
Publication:Windspeaker
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Aug 1, 2008
Words:737
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