Northern Shuswap Tribal Council


{tab=Welcome} Welcome to our governance learning website!

This website is part of the Northern Shuswap Tribal Council’s (NSTC) ongoing work to help make sure our communities have the best prepared, best organized elected officials to lead our communities, today, tomorrow and in the future.

The job of a Councillor is a demanding one. It’s a big job that’s constantly evolving with more and more responsibilities and complexities added each year.

Using this website along with our Governance Orientation Kit and orientation program, you can help improve your governance skills, or, if you are planning to run for Council, better understand what the job includes.

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There are four key resources and tools to support improved governance for our elected officials.  This section summarizes them and provides electronic copies of them for you to use.

Our most important and most comprehensive learning tool. Download the NSTC Orientation Tool Kit here.

This is our most important learning tool. We developed it with input from elected officials and Band Administrators as the main guide to you:

  • Improve your understanding of your roles, rules, responsibilities and authorities at the community level, the NSTC level and beyond.
  • Improve our communities’ collective decision-making skills, transparency and accountability.
  • Improve risk management at the community level and NSTC levels to make sure our elected leaders or staff avoid exposing themselves and their communities to legal liabilities.

The kit is broken into three sections, or modules.

  • MODULE A: Our Governance: An overview of the roles and responsibilities of Councillors and the key governance skills and tools every Councillor may need. It also provides an overview of the stakeholders Councillors work with regularly, including the NSTC, sister agencies and other governments and agencies (e.g., Province, Assembly of First Nations).
  • MODULE B: Our Communities: Summarizes NSTC member communities’ governance structures and organization. It includes a checklist of important policies and procedures Councillors from each community need to be familiar with.
  • MODULE C: Our Learning Resources: A learning module for readers to test their knowledge. It includes FAQs (frequently asked questions) for current and prospective leadership, common governance scenarios and links to helpful tools and resources.

You can download a full copy of the NSTC Orientation Tool Kit here.

Glossary of Terms

A glossary of important terms you’ll hear about a lot in Council

Our glossary of terms covers common governance words and concepts. You’ll be hearing and reading about them at Council, when using the Self-Assessment Quiz, or and when you read over the Governance Orientation Kit, so they’re handy to know and have around.

Audit – A review of the Band’s financial accounts.

Band Administrator – The senior manager of our communities and the link between Band administration and Council.

Chief – The elected head Councillor of the community.

Committee- A group tasked with supporting some specific community project or work

Council – The elected representatives of the community.

Councillor – An elected member of the Council.

Conflict of Interest – When someone’s personal interests supersede or compete with their dedication to the best interest of the community (Band) as a whole.

End-run – When communication channels and staff hierarchies are ignored (e.g. when staff members go directly to the Chiefs with concerns).

Governance – The structure and process by which community decisions are made and carried out.

Indian Act – This is the Canadian federal legislation, first passed in 1876, that sets out certain federal government obligations, and regulates the management of Indian reserve lands.

Member – Someone who is a registered member of the Band.

Quorum – A quorum is the minimum number of Councillors required to be present in order to conduct the Band’s business (e.g., to vote on issues). Quorum provides protection against action by a small number of Councillors, which may not be representative of the whole group.  For example, if only two Councillors were present, and quorum was three, then the two Councillors could not vote on a motion. The Quorum for each band is laid out in its election code or governance manual.

Senior Administrator – The most senior staff person, and the direct link to the Council or Board. For Bands this is typically the Band Administrator. For NSTC, this is the Executive Director.

Sister Agencies/Organizations – Organizations that have been developed to provide services to member communities (e.g., Knucwentwecw Society)

Stakeholders – A stakeholder is defined as any group or individual with an interest or “stake” in the affairs of your community

Treaty– A treaty is a negotiated agreement between a First Nation(s), and the BC and federal governments that sets out rights and responsibilities over topics like land ownership, governance, wildlife and environmental management, financial benefits and taxation. A treaty is also a full and formal expression of reconciliation between First Nations and government.

Tribal Council: An association of First Nation (Band) Councils. In our case, The Northern Shuswap Tribal Council (NSTC) is an association of four communities: Canim Lake (Tsq’escen’), Stswecem’c – Xgat’tem (Canoe Creek – Dog Creek), Soda Creek – Deep Creek (Xatśūll – ‘Cmetem’), Williams Lake (T’exelc).

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Welcome to the governance self-assessment quiz!

We’ve developed a pool of over 60 questions to test your governance knowledge. Each time you take the quiz, a new list of 10 questions will be randomly generated, so you can take the test several times. Pick the BEST answer for each question.

For more information on the answers, check out the Governance Orientation Kit.

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There are a number of helpful resource guides available to support our communities in building governance capacity, improving financial management practices, and to help improve member engagement and involvement in community planning and development.

These links and resources are by no means exhaustive – there are a lot of helpful organizations out there. Please visit some of the organizations listed to access additional tools, resources and other helpful information.

Click on any of resources for more information on it.

AFOA has produced three guides for elected leadership:

  • Sharing Financial Information
  • Presenting and Understanding Financial Information – A Practical Guide for Aboriginal Leadership
  • Strategic Management & Accountability for First Nations – Best Practices to Consider

Each provides a basic introduction to the financial responsibilities of elected leaders including short and long term planning; budget approval and review; establishing a financial policy; decision-making based on financial information; approval of financial statements; the nature and format of financial information and reports that should be reviewed; the audit; and financial communication with the community.

AFOA’s BC chapter ( also offers a number of community training workshops to members on financial management and governance. The Essentials of First Nations Financial Management workshop is a two-day program that reviews essential skills of financial management—using exercises, examples and updates on new accounting requirements. Participants will learn about management principles accounting cycles, finance roles and responsibilities, fund and business accounting, financial management reports, and the role of auditors. A second workshop, First Nations Financial Management & Governance Systems examines the relationship between good governance and financial management.

AANDC has developed a number of tools, resources and publications. We used one publication – First Nations Governance Handbook: A resource guide for effective councils – extensively for the production of our own Governance Orientation Kit.

AANDC has also developed a Governance Capacity Planning Tool (GCPT) to allow First Nations communities to create a community-focused, long‐term plan for governance capacity development. The GCPT helps communities create a five-year road map to governance capacity development based on the community’s current capacities, assets and priorities. The plan created will be a “living” document that can be added to or modified in the future. It will also serve as a reference document to measure and report on successes.

The BC chapter of the Assembly of First Nations has developed a “First Nations’ Governance Community Engagement and Self-Assessment Tool” (the ‘Tool’). The Tool includes a number of modules each designed to assist communities achieve their governance objectives including assessing the current effectiveness of the governing body and progress in building/re-building institutions of governance; identifying and assessing any gaps in their administrative/organizational structures; considering the range of powers/jurisdiction of the First Nations’ government; and managing change and engaging the community.

MARR provides and offers a number of programs and resources in a number of different areas including economic development, social initiatives, culture and language, and cross-government programs (i.e., programs with other provincial ministries).  MARR also leads the province’s participation in Final Agreement and advanced Agreement-in-Principle negotiations, interim measures and other agreements with First Nations and the federal government on lands and resources, governance, fiscal relations and capacity building. One of MARR’s recent resource tools is a planning guide to support regional planning between First Nations and local governments (municipalities, regional districts).

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Click on the image to download the App – For Android Only!