Aboriginal Sport Circle funding put on hold

Call the Yukon Aboriginal Sport Circle and you'll simply get an answering machine message that reveals much about the organization's current status. "No one will be in the office between May 19th to May 25th," it says.

Call the Yukon Aboriginal Sport Circle and you’ll simply get an answering machine message that reveals much about the organization’s current status.

“No one will be in the office between May 19th to May 25th,” it says.

The circle’s three paid employees are hard to reach. They all left the organization in the spring, including former executive director Greg Edgelow, who assumed the position just last September.

You may even have trouble finding the organization’s office, which moved from the Sport Yukon building to the Council of Yukon First Nations building on 2nd Avenue a few months back.

Although dormant for months – specifically since the Arctic Winter Games in March – the YASC, which is a member of the national body, Canada’s Aboriginal Sport Circle, is trying to get back on its feet, electing new members to the board of directors and a new executive director at its annual general meeting at the Sport Yukon building on Monday.

However, just as the wheels were set to turn, the publicly funded organization dedicated to expanding sports and recreation activities for aboriginal people in the territory hit a major snag. Due to unspecified issues with its financial reports to the government, the circle has not received its funding for the next fiscal year.

“It was the end of the fiscal year – end of March – when all the reports were submitted,” said the circle’s vice-chair Kluane Adamek. “We thought that was sufficient. Our executive director at the time felt that was what was needed, comparing his report to previous reports, and in actuality there were some things missing.

“The final report needed to be cleared up. That’s all that needs to happen in order for us to get our funding. It’s not an issue whether they are going to fund us or not.”

Unable to secure the funding, the society now finds itself in a catch-22. The circle needs employees to complete the financial reports to get its next installment of funding, but, at the same time, needs the funding to pay the employees.

“Given the transition on both ends, there was a bit of communication breakdown,” said Adamek. “That led to us struggling with the reporting. Our reporting was completed, however, there were some things we did not fully complete – we thought we did everything accordingly, but it wasn’t.

“In that time we weren’t able to get our new funds to maintain someone in the office, because there were changes that needed to be done. And by not having someone upstairs, how are we going to get it done?

“That’s what the situation is currently.”

According to a letter from outgoing chair Brian MacDonald to the board of directors dated June 24, “Kluane and I have been working on the necessary reporting and will be seeking the Council of Yukon First Nation’s assistance to complete. The Grand Chief (Ruth Massie) is approaching the Minister of Sport Archie Lang to seek financing to address the shortfalls in the interim.”

MacDonald goes on to write, “The two main issues are confirming accounts and confirming records.”

At time of press, the circle couldn’t provide specific information on the organization’s financial situation.

“We need somebody who is a professional accountant to look over it,” said Adamek.

In fact, even Monday’s meeting was impacted by the lack of financial information, with prospective board members hesitating to get involved without knowing specifics.

“I have to know what I’m walking into,” said one person at the meeting.

However, after a lengthy in-camera session, the circle elected four new board members and a new executive director, Nyla Klugie.

In September, according to government press releases, the circle received $20,000 from the Community Development Fund to host a leadership summit, which took place in Whitehorse at the end of November. The same month the organization received $25,000 from the True Sport Foundation.

In 2008, Ottawa issued a promise to give $2.3 million to the three territories for sports programs, including the Yukon Aboriginal Sport Circle.

With the exception of the last few months, evidence of spending is plentiful.

Over the last year, the circle has hosted Yukon Championships for Dene Games and Arctic sports as well as the trials for the Arctic Winter Games traditional sports disciplines.

The non-profit society has also worked with school towards getting traditional sports included in physical-education programs in the territory and even distributed over 300 kilos of sports equipment – predominately hockey – to such small communities as Dawson City and Old Crow.

The circle will holding another “annual” general meeting in September.

Contact Tom Patrick at

tomp@yukon-news.com

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