Tlicho annual gathering begins with travellers' arrival, financial update

The meetings began in Gameti, N.W.T., after dozens of delegates arrived by canoe in the early morning hours of Wednesday. On Tuesday, those assembled heard that the Tlicho government has almost $190 million in financial assets.

Gathering underway in Gameti after dozens of delegates arrived by boat Wednesday morning

Trails of our Ancestor paddlers arrive in Gameti at about 2 a.m. Wednesday morning. About a dozen canoes travelled over water and many portages from Behchoko to Gameti. They arrived on the 16th day. (Walter Strong/CBC)

The 15th Tlicho annual gathering began just before two a.m. Wednesday morning in Gameti, N.W.T. Shotgun blasts and flares fired out over Rae Lake signalled the imminent arrival of dozens of canoers, who had been travelling for 15 days and two hours by then.

As part of the gathering, the fourth Tlicho Assembly had its first full session Tuesday. The session began as planned, but the gathering didn't begin until travellers from the three other Tlicho communities arrived. About a dozen canoes travelled over water and many portages from Behchoko to Gameti.

The initial schedule called for delegates to arrive by canoe a day earlier. If they had, they might have heard about the strong financial position the Tlicho Government currently sits in.

On Tuesday, auditors from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) presented the annual consolidated financial statements for the Tlicho government.

Jeff Baker, an auditor with PwC, summarized the Tlicho government position as very healthy.

"A financial position everyone should be proud of," he said.

"If you look at their statement of financial position, they have no bank loans, no debt to any party. Very strong financial asset position. They've got the Tlicho capital trust that's earning well. It's a very strong balance sheet with very little debt."

Jasper Lamouelle, CEO of the Tlicho Investment Corporation, prepares to present his corporation's financial statement to members and employees at the Tlicho assembly in Gameti. The corporation reported nearly $21 million in net income for the fiscal year. (Walter Strong/CBC)

The Tlicho government audited books show $26 million in cash, $128 million in capital investment trust reserves, and $12 million in net revenue for the year.

Audited net financial assets for the Tlicho government are reported to be at almost $190 million, as of March 31, 2019.

Businesses see losses

But one sore point with some Tlicho members at the assembly were the approximately $5.8 million in losses reported by Tlicho government business enterprises, though that number is down from more than $14 million in losses the year before.

According to the statements, the largest losses were reported by a numbered company, 1456982 Alberta Ltd., which reported over $6.5 million in losses for the year.

Other groups reporting large losses were Tlicho Landtran Transport Ltd., which reported nearly $3.3 million in losses, and Tlicho Equipment Services Ltd., which reported over $1.1 million.

Doreen Arrowmaker stood up after the auditor's presentation during time allowed for public comment.

She described the enterprises losing money as a "sinking ship" that were hurting the long term viability of Tlicho finances.

Representatives from the Tlicho government held private talks Wednesday morning to discuss the finances of the Tlicho Investment Corporation, at the request of CEO Jasper Lamouelle. Only Tlicho citizens or employees were allowed to remain.