Social Development

The Gitksan Government Commission (GGC) has a Social Development Policy. This policy is for the member communities of the GGC, including Gitanmaax, Gitanyow, Glen Vowell and Kispiox, to guide and assist in the delivery of the social development program on reserve.

Under the multi-year funding agreement GGC in partnership with the bands made changes to the existing INAC Social Development policy guidelines. This revised policy manual (2006) focuses on the unique needs of the Gitksan communities and better reflects their goals and objectives. It will eventually incorporate the traditional roles and responsibilities of the House and Clan system in caring for all members and residents of each community.

This policy manual has been thoroughly reviewed in detail through a series of meetings including Chief Councillors and their invited Band Council representatives, in collaboration with the GGC Social Development Advisor and each Band’s Social Development Staff.

This policy manual provides consistency and adherence to the multi-year agreement as signed by all four Bands. As such, it is applicable to all four Band Councils, their Community Social Development Committees, their administration staff and the Band members. Any changes to the Manual in future will require the agreement of all four Bands as represented by their Chief Councillors on the GGC Board.

Sandra Martin Harris, is the Advisor for the Social Development at Gitksan Government Commission and works closely with each of the community Band Social Development Workers and administration to implement the social development program.

Social Development Compliance Reviews - Update

Gitanyow, Gitanmaax, Glen Vowell and Kispiox are required to have their files reviewed by INAC's social development compliance review team.  

In 2015/16 INAC completed the social development compliance review. This meant INAC came out to each community to review the files for: completed applications, proper identification, monthly renewals forms are complete, housing agreements are on file, certificate of possessions are on file for privately owned homes, special needs expenditures are appropriate and the children out of parental home files are up to date (amongst many other requirements). GGC supported the social development workers, finance and housing personnel to have their files ready for review. We did not have a list of clients/files that INAC would review. INAC reviewed approximately 50% of the caseload in each community. 

As we did not pass the 2014/2015 review we had to do it again for the 2015/2016 year. Our results were quite different and approved dramtically. The 2015/2016 results are: Gitanmaax 99.98%; Kispiox 93.90%; Glen Vowell 97.62%; Gitanyow 89.51%. Overall the GGC rating is 94.34%. A total of $72,384.93 was recovered from the social development budget. These recoveries can lead to Bands going in to third party management. The main areas that did not pass the INAC social development program review are: no current housing rental agreements on file, tenants did not match agreement, rental amounts did not match the SA payments.  

The 2014/2015 review was done, GGC supported the bands to appeal the findings and the final compliance review results are which are: Gitanyow 95.2%; Gitanmaax 64%; Glen Vowell 79.7%; Kispiox 88.6%. A total of $211,950.88 was recovered from GGC Social Development budget. These recoveries can lead to Bands going in to third party management. The main areas that did not pass were: no housing rental agreements on file, band homes with no mortgage cannot charge rent to the SA budget (being contested in BC); incomplete applications, managing Purchase Orders & non-eligible expenses. 

Please call our office if you have any questions. 

Principles of the GGC Social Development Program

This policy manual will change and evolve as the needs of the community and people change. It is the goal of the GGC and member Bands that the policies will evolve to a point where the traditions and culture of the Gitksan will be reflected throughout and that the House and Clans will assume more responsibility in promoting the health and well-being of each member.

The objectives of the social development program will focus on reinforcing the traditional responsibility of caring and supporting all Gitksan and working towards independence and growth away from social assistance to social development.

Social development includes developing educational and employment plans for all able-bodied individuals, focusing on realistic goals with assistance from the extended family House, clan and community.

It is the tradition of the Gitksan to be self sufficient and it is the responsibility of the extended family to assist individual family members in need. Only when traditional family resources are no longer available should one turn to the Band social development program for support. This should never be the first resort, but rather the last. Independence and self sufficiency should be the guiding force of every individual within the context of our traditional tribal culture.

Goals of the GGC Social Development Program (2006)


•To develop skills to seek and maintain financial independence through employment or business ownership
•To develop confidence in making decisions that affect one’s future through education or employment plans
•To develop the ability to make decisions and choices leading to self reliance

Extended Family and House:

•To strengthen traditional family responsibilities of caring for all.
•To provide assistance and guidance to all family members working towards independence and self reliance.
•To provide moral, and in some cases financial, support to family/House members as opposed to reliance on social assistance programs.


•To develop resources and programs that will assist individuals and families to become self reliant within the context of our traditional tribal culture.
•To encourage individuals to seek alternatives to social assistance through education, counselling and/or employment plans.
•To discourage individual and family reliance on social assistance programs and to encourage the tradition of caring for each other.

We also have adapted the On Reserve handbook for our communities to share information about the Gitksan Social Development Policy. Please click here to download it. Most communities follow AANDC policy, the on reserve hand book can be found at the First Nations Social Development Society website or follow this link.  

Income Assistance Rates

Gitksan Social Development: the level of rates for income assistance are below - this is section 8.1 of the Gitksan policy. These rates match INAC  and provincial levels of support. Unfortunately, they cannot be higher than the federal or provincial levels. Many of the shelter costs (i.e., rent or hydro) are not paid directly to the client as rent is often paid to the local band office for a social or band house/rental unit. And many clients have chosen the social development program to pay hydro directly. Please note that in the last few years the costs for hydro have often put clients in a hardship situation as the income assistance maximum amount cannot cover both the mortgage costs and the high hydro costs. Often the band office has exempted the mortgage costs to pay for the high hydro bills which leaves the band office carrying a rental arrears for the mortgage. For those members living off reserve both basic and shelter are combined into one cheque and the client must pay their own rent and hydro - this is one of the main differences between on and off reserve. Many FN communities are starting to insist that the clients pay their hydro themselves rather than the band office to help encourage self sufficiency. 

The social development rates policy is in 5 pages, each separate page is shown below. The Gitksan policy includes regular income assistance, PPMB (persons with multiple barriers), PWD (persons with disabilities) and hardship in one rate tables. INAC has these in 3 different sections in their policy. The INAC social development policy which most First Nations in BC follow. the INAC social development manual section 4.11 shares the rates for basic income assistance for BC First Nations. 

The GGC rates for income assistance, as of January 2018, are below: 



page 2 Basic rates for Employables and PPMB: 


Page 3, rates for Persons with Disabilities:

Page 4, rates for job seekers awaiting other benefits, Hardship (repayable): 

page 5 Hardship rates for PWD clients (repayable): 

The federal levels from INAC, for income assistance can be found at the following link: Sections, 4.11, 7.11 and 8.4 share the rates tables. Please note that the federal government is required to match the levels of the province they are in so each province and territory has different levels of income assistance. 

The BC provincial levels of support for income assistance can be found at this link:


If the social worker makes a decision that you do not agree with, you can request to have the decision appealed. You need to fill out the request for administrative review Form, ask the BSDW for a copy and fill out your section and the BSDW fills out their section. The BSDW will send it to GGC for review. 

If you have any questions please call GGC at 250.842.2248. 

The annual expenditures for social development for the 4 bands is approximately 3 million dollars each year.

The expenditures include supports for:

  • basic income assistance (mostly single males, and far too many children in poverty) includes persons with multiple barriers and persons with disabilities
  • shelter costs (often issued to band for social housing or rent to own units; other costs include hydro and wood)
  • guardian financial assistance (GFA) to support children living with extended family on an interim basis; the 4 bands affiliated with GGC are still using the GFA policy and not the COPH policy.
  • WOP/ASARET - on the job training
  • adult in home care (homemaking and meals on wheels)

the Annual Monthly average of community members seeking income assistance for 2011-2012:

  • single persons seeking employment: 180 persons/month (across 4 bands) (number of persons and families down slightly from year before except for childless couples)
  • one parent family unit: 54 single parents/month (across 4 bands)
  • two parent families: 38 families/month (across 4 bands)  
  • childless couples: 19 couples/month (across 4 bands)

For a look at BC, the northwest has the highest rates of income assistance and much demand for jobs and training!


Current Situation:

  • many single males are not employment ready - need essential skills and literacy supports which may not be available in the community
  • families - levels of child poverty are extremely high - up to 50% (or more in some) of all children in each of the 4 bands are at the lowest level of income; need intense supports; food security is an issue
  • reasons for not working: lack of jobs, not employment ready and dependent on band supports (SNDS); disconnected from tribal culture
  • too many working people refuse to pay rent for the social or band homes they are living in; band office carries the mortgage and deficits - stops any new housing or renovations

Many Successes:

  • Essential skills - community based support for literacy and numeracy is needed; we need to do this community based training again! 
  • Lifeskills and personal development - assessing strengths and building on them - links to the Ama Didils Job Readiness Workbook, an integrated wrap around approach 
  • Early learning initiatives - to be made available for each child; connects parents to positive learning experiences
  • Comprehensive community planning with a community development approach - linking vision of the people with a safe healthy vibrant! community engagement works!!  



What's Newread all the updates

Education Advisor POSTING

Please see the posting for the GGC Education Advisor June 2019

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GGC Office Holiday Closure

The GGC office will be closed from noon Dec 21, 2018, to Jan 2, 2019, at 8 am. 

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