Kittens surrendered to the Gwaii Animal Helpline are pictured in this submitted photo. (Leila Riddall/Submitted photo)

‘Increasingly centralized approach’ leads Haida Gwaii SPCA council members to resign

Former BC SPCA members say proposals currently under consultation do not favour small communities

Haida Gwaii residents are staying tuned to find out more about the future of animal well-being on the island after local BC SPCA Community Council members declared their decision to resign.

On June 6, former Haida Gwaii SPCA Community Council member Anna Maria Husband announced on social media that she and four other former volunteers had made the “very difficult, but necessary decision” to resign from the community council and as members of the BC SPCA.

“Our joint decision is based on experiencing the BC SPCA’s increasingly centralized management approach. This approach does not favour small communities such as those on Haida Gwaii,” Husband wrote.

“It is important that donations intended to help Haida Gwaii animals stay on Haida Gwaii. Thus, we encourage everyone who wants to help local animals in need to support the Animal Helpline and the Haida Gwaii Animal Hospital Emergency Fund.”

On June 9 the Gwaii Animal Helpline, formerly the Masset Animal Helpline, also took to social media to say north and south island animal well-being workers had met the previous day, and to “stay tuned for new developments.”

ALSO READ: Islanders call for local animal welfare rules

Husband, who started volunteering on the local community council around 2012, told Black Press Media the joint resignation was prompted by a BC SPCA governance review that is still underway.

According to BC SPCA executive director Craig Daniell, the review started in June 2019 and focuses on two main proposals currently under consultation.

Daniell said one of the proposals made by a governance expert is to “slightly decrease” the size of the BC SPCA board of directors, which at present has up to 16 volunteer members elected by community councils across the province.

The other is to allow all members of the BC SPCA to vote and elect a regional representative to the board of directors, rather than only allowing community councils to vote members onto the board.

“We actually want to broaden our governance. Right now a very small number of people actually vote for our board,” Daniell said. “We think it’s far more democratic if every person who is a member of the organization be given an opportunity to actually vote for the board.”

ALSO READ: Abuse cases highlight need for islands animal shelter, bylaws

But Husband believes the proposals would not work in favour of the relatively small and remote local branch.

“We’ve always struggled to get support for our branch and it was quite clear … that we were going to get less and less support,” she said, citing seldom visits from SPCA special provincial constables to the island. “We want to ensure that funds that people hope to be directed toward helping animals stay on Haida Gwaii.”

Daniell said he respects the opinion of the former community council members, but there are other councils across the province that seem to be in favour of the proposals.

“Members of the Haida Gwaii Community Council appear to be opposed to those changes and that’s their right, but at the same time there are others that have a different opinion than theirs,” he said, adding that the two main proposals under consultation will only be approved if the BC SPCA has the support of the majority of its membership. “At the end of the day the current members of the community councils right across the province and the board together will decide whether these changes get made or not.”

Daniell said the “one member, one vote” consultation will be ongoing for a number of months, with completion expected in October at the earliest.

ALSO READ: BC SPCA constable visits Haida Gwaii

ALSO READ: Animal welfare group gets fur-real with social enterprise idea

Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email:
karissa.gall@blackpress.ca.


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