The Trustees responsibilities require them to hold and use the Trust for the benefit of the beneficiaries. The Trustees authority and responsibility includes distributing Trust funds. Management assists the Trustees in fulfilling their duties. The Trustees also rely on each First Nation to provide the information required about how money from the Trust is used each year.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are two main processes, first the Provincial government process including an Order-in-Council, which must occur before release of the funds to the First Nations Trust. Once the funds transfer from the Province to the First Nations Trust, the second process begins. This process requires meetings, review of information and the preparation of documentation. At this stage, it is the Trustees and Management who deal with the remainder of matters that must be in place and dealt with before the distributions are made to the beneficiaries of the Trust.
The Trust monies come to the Trust through the Saskatchewan Indian and Metis Affairs Department after the provincial process is completed. On a few occasions there have been delays, such delays are beyond the control of the Board of Trustees and Management. If a delay occurs and the Trust does not receive the funds on the date anticipated, the Trustees and Management process the distribution to the beneficiaries as soon as possible Management has worked overtime to get the funds through as quickly as possible.
No application is necessary; the Trustees and Management are informed when new Councils are elected. We do encourage every newly elected Chief to contact us; we will arrange a briefing about the Trust.
Distributions to the beneficiaries are made quarterly during the fiscal year, usually during June, September, December and March.
Each year, the First Nations Trust makes four distributions to the beneficiaries. The distributions are based on estimates of the net profits from seven casinos in Saskatchewan, once the actual net profits can be estimated the difference between the estimate and the actual net profits is also distributed.
How the decision is made varies from Nation to Nation, however decision-making is always in the hands of the First Nation. Some First Nations have a Committee that makes recommendations to their Band Council. Determining how a First Nation uses their funds is not a decision made by the Trust, except to the extent that the First Nation must use the funds for one or more of the purposes specified in the 2003 Trust Indenture.
All interest earned on funds held by the First Nations Trust is added to the capital. The interest earned each year is shown in the audit published in the Annual Report. The amount of interest earned is relatively small because the distribution to the beneficiaries moves quickly from the Trust to the beneficiaries.
Trust money distributed to First Nations may be used for the following purposes:
• economic development;
• social programs;
• justice initiatives;
• education and education facilities;
• the development and operation of recreational facilities;
• senior and youth programs;
• cultural and spiritual development;
• the development and maintenance of community infrastructure;
• health initiatives;
• governance activities;
• Treaty protection; and
• Any other charitable purpose.
For more information about ventures that First Nations determined would help their people, click First Nation Initiatives or for some general ideas about the types of initiatives, click ventures.
The money is a portion of the net profits from gaming in seven casinos in Saskatchewan. Gaming Agreements between the FSIN and the Province established arrangements for sharing gaming profits. Currently, 50 per cent of the net profits from the SIGA casinos is designated for the First Nations Trust. The portion of the net profits that come to the First Nations Trust from government-run casinos is 25 per cent. The funds are transferred to Trust four times each year by the Saskatchewan First Nation & Metis Affairs Department.
There are two Casinos operated by the Saskatchewan Gaming Corporation (SGC) and seven casinos operating under the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA). Contributing a portion of their net profits to the First Nations Trust are:
- Bear Claw Casino, White Bear First Nation, opened in 1996
- Dakota Dunes Casino, Whitecap Dakota Sioux Nation, opened in 2008
- Gold Eagle Casino, North Battleford, opened in 1996
- Northern Lights Casino, Prince Albert, opened in 1996
- Painted Hand Casino, Yorkton, opened in 1996
- Living Sky Casino, Swift Current
- Gold Horse Casino, Lloydminister
- Casino Moose Jaw, Moose Jaw
- Casino Regina, Regina
The 2003 Trust Indenture requires that “recipients of payments from the Trust to provide yearly, a report that demonstrates to the Trustees that all money received from the Trust was used for the purposes outlined in section 5.01.” The responsibilities of the Trustees include reporting to the beneficiaries of the Trust about the purposes distributions were used for, and providing the information to the Saskatchewan Ministry of First Nation & Metis Affairs.
It is important for the Trust to have the up-to-date numbers because these figures are used for calculating the distributions made to a First Nation. The exception to this, is the First Nations who are in the process of re-establishing and haven’t yet established their membership. Currently, there are three such First Nations in Saskatchewan—they each receive a set quarterly payment, whereas calculations all other distributions to First Nation are determined according to a formula that is tied to the membership count.
The First Nations Trust was created in May 2003, when the FSIN and The Trustees signed the 2003 Trust Indenture. Prior to the establishment of the First Nations Trust, the First Nations Fund distributed gaming profits. Closing down the Fund, overlapped briefly with the First Nations Trust. The wind-down of the Fund was completed in 2004, and it no longer exists.