Cultural camp volunteers have been busy making animal masks for the camp, scheduled to run from Aug. 12 to 15 and from Aug. 19 to 22. (Jensen Edwards/Grand Forks Gazette)

UPDATED: Arts council folds amid financial questions, postponed 2018 culture camp set for August

$8k in grants was paid for a 2018 culture camp that got postponed. Organizers moved it to Aug. 2019

UPDATE – Aug. 1, 2019: Organizers for the Indigenous cultural camp originally scheduled for 2018 have confirmed with the Gazette that the camp will go ahead in 2019. The camp will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Aug. 12 to 15 and from Aug. 19 to 22. They say that the $8,000 spent last year as part of a provincial grant for the event will go towards paying for the camp coordinator, for supplies and for an honorarium for elders who will participate in the teachings at the camp.

Arts organizations across the region will no longer have easy access to event and project grants through a local society, after the Boundary District Arts Council officially folded on June 30. Member organizations voted unanimously to dissolve the society amid questions around the past board’s handling of the organization’s finances.

After an entirely new board took over last November, they realized that $8,000 of a provincial grant intended for an Indigenous culture camp was payed out to a previous director and family member, but no receipt evidence of the original expenditures were provided. However, organizers of the camp told the Gazette on Aug. 1 that they fully intend to run the event this month with the money spent last year.

The memos on three cheques written in 2018 indicate that the payments were for “cultural camp,” “cultural camp facilities” and “cultural camp supplies.” Documents suggest that the camp was to happen in July or August 2018. Organizers told the Gazette Aug. 1 that due to the flood and smoke pollution last summer, the camp was postponed.

But without being able to account for the $8,000 for 2018, BDAC’s final directors said, the organization would have been unable to apply for future grants from the province. Therefore, said Deb Baker, a member of the organization’s board when BDAC folded, it was in the membership’s interest to dissolve the society and have an entirely separate organization start fresh under a new name, with new governance structures and a board with a clean slate.

The remaining cash in the organization’s bank account was meant to be dispersed between its members, among them Gallery 2, the Christina Lake Arts and Artisans Society, fire dancers Lumosity and other arts groups in the region. The Gazette has yet to confirm with member organizations regarding cash disbursements.

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The original print version of this story falsely stated that Deb Baker was BDAC’s president when it folded. She was not, but rather was occupying a director-at-large position. The original July 17 print version of this story did have confirmation from the Indigenous cultural camp as to the fate of the cancelled event. Since publication, organizers confirmed that the camp will run in August 2019 and will use the $8,000 paid last year to acquire supplies, pay for a coordinator and go towards honoraria for participating elders.

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