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Response to Tewateno Suspension Letter – 26July10

by on July 27, 2010

(Download entire letter as a Word document here (215KB): TewatenoResponse26July10)


July 26, 2010

Without Prejudice

Ms. Marnie Cumming
Provincial Commissioner
Ontario Guide House
14 Birch Avenue
Toronto, Ont.
M4V 1C8

Dear Marnie:

We are in receipt of your letter dated July 16, 2010. It is very unfortunate that we have not been able to resolve the issues re Camp Tewateno. We have on many occasions asked for a face-to-face meeting and end up with a conference call where we go in circles. The last call on June 28th was a two-hour call that ended without any reconciliation.

While you feel that you need the committee to “comply”, we accept as true that we are indeed the ‘stewards of the funds’ that have been designated for a specific purpose. We believe we are at the point in time where the courts need to decide what to do with the monies being held in trust for the building of the lodge. This was also messaged to you on our last conference call.

It has also become very clear from the telephone conversation of June 28th, that Ontario Council has lost the original paperwork that was approved for the building and development of the camp that included the lodge. In our commitment to resolve this issue, we offered to go through the 78 Banker Boxes from Silver Birch Area, Maple Leaf & Champlain Divisions to try to find and recoup the records, including the charitable receipts that designated funds to the lodge.  We still feel that if people were able to come to the table we could work out a viable plan. Perhaps a mediator could help in this rather than making the media the mediator.

In regards to the items in your letter of July 16th we believe you are unreasonable in your time demands re: the deadline of July 26th. These letters were not received until various days of the week beginning July 20th, and some members have not yet received theirs. We are volunteers with families, jobs and situations that take our time. Ontario Council seems to be embarking on a new system of imposing impossible benchmarks with grave consequences. Your timeline is not adequate.

We are in the process of the following:

  1. We have already submitted unaudited statements for 2007 and 2008 and the 2009 statements are with the accountant. We told you on more than one occasion that as soon as these were received we would be sending them. We called the auditor today and the timeframe will be mid-August. We are in the process of making copies of information that we will send your way as soon as possible.
  2. Once the missing donation receipts that were all sent to Ontario Council by the Divisions and Area are found, we will have backup proof of what amount of funds have been restricted for the building of the lodge. We propose coming to Toronto on August 26th to go through the banker boxes to find the information needed. Please confirm a location and we will be there at 8:30 in the morning.
  3. Re: Bank Accounts – we were very honest and up front with you from the initial conversations (giving you amounts of monies collected to date). We indicated at that time that these monies were designated for the building of the lodge at Camp Tewateno. The operating account funds were sent upon request in 2007. Again, we reiterate that there will be no restricted funds transferred until the court determines that we should do so.
  4. We are working on having the Camp Tewateno website shut down. We have submitted information to you for over two years to put up on the Ontario website and to date this has not happened. We said when this was done we would take down the site. We have yet to see the updated info on the Ontario site, which further leaves us in doubt about trusting your word.
  5. All funds will be held at this point and not returned to donors or anyone else, unless there is a court order to do so. The message to the media was that if there were people in the local community who contributed to the building of the proposed lodge, this money would be given back to them as we could not honour our commitment to use the money for the lodge given the actions of Provincial and National Council. At this point, we are keeping track of the numerous messages and letters to this effect. You must realize that  your actions are causing very bad publicity for Girl Guides of Canada. The morale amongst Guiders was already so low, that in one of our local communities, word has it that 19 units will not be opening up in September with a further 9 units in doubt. This is devastating for our Guiding community, and most importantly our girls. Without happy leaders, happy volunteers, happy parents and public support you have an empty shell of highly paid administrators.
  6. Re: Suspensions of appointments – we want the suspensions lifted immediately and the Committee members reinstated to their full duties. We further request National Council to appoint a mediator to work through these issues with our committee, as our attempt at collaboration with you has been unsuccessful. Furthermore, if these suspensions are not lifted we WILL bring a court application as soon as possible, to have the courts determine where the money will go.
  7. If all of our duties are suspended at this point that is one thing. While the courts decide this matter, we will take the necessary measures to ensure the camp remains safe and healthy, including the testing of the water and ongoing maintenance. We will not abandon our commitments to the girls. It is reckless for you to order us to cease and desist all activities and to leave the camp with no responsible, knowledgeable and experienced team to protect it.

We have grave concerns about how Girl Guides of Canada is operating and the rapid decline in membership and morale. As we said two years ago we have lost confidence in this council to effectively and transparently operate in the best interests of the girls and guiders of Ontario.

We reiterate once again, that there are outstanding items from our initial queries, numerous emails and conference calls (such as the following):

Oct., 2008       Letter to Provincial Council

March, 2009    Letter to Provincial Council

May, 2009       Face-to face meeting with Marnie Cumming, Carla Lyon, Sylvia Dufresne, Denise Calvert

June, 2009       Letter to Chief Commissioner, referred back to Provincial Commissioner

Oct., 2009       Letter to Marnie Cumming

May, 2010       Email to Marnie Cumming

Outstanding Items:

We are still looking for the property consultant’s report and financial reports (not-for-profit organizations’ financials are public information, thus the membership should have access to these by request.) 

When discussing our application for a court decision be aware that we will be focusing on your transparency in disclosing where the funds are coming from for the lawyers you will hire. We will be transposing those dollars into “cases of cookies” for the public to fully understand how far you have fallen from Guiding’s roots. We are proud to declare that we have funds raised specifically amongst ourselves and our supporters, for legal matters, away from the Girl Guide name.   We have enlisted the aid of several local politicians. We have received overwhelming public support in this endeavour, and no units and young girls have been utilized in raising this legal fund. Nor have we used other camps and Guiders’ money.

You will be aware three members of our Committee resigned following receipt of your July 16th letter. Two of these members were just honoured in June with the Ontario Community Service Award for their work with Camp Tewateno, one for fifteen years, one for over twenty years. These members have left their heart with us, but they cannot take the bullying and threats as it interferes with serious health issues for two of these wonderful volunteers. And as they approach their 50-year mark with Girl Guides they are afraid. We have had our remaining Committee, one by one, re-affirm their dedication to fight these unjust and abusive demands you make. We encompass tens of thousands of volunteer hours and raised almost three quarters of a million dollars for this project at the local level, and we are not yet finished our work.

Who do you think you are, as people purporting to be volunteers, but have never set foot on the property you claim to steward, who have never donated five minutes to help build the camp, or fundraised one red cent, to terminate long-time volunteers who have built a legacy for the girls in their community?  Who do you think you are to change the rules halfway through our development and expect us to capitulate to your demands (because you say so)!? 

To help us see the answer to this question:

  • Please forward immediately a copy of the Girl Guides of Canada-Guides du Canada By-Laws and Governance Policy, as well as Ontario procedures so that we have official copies of the documents you refer to in order to justify your requests.
  • Please also forward a full statement of intent for holding the funds, should they be forwarded to you (would the money be separate, would interest be accumulated on it, etc.).
  • Please also provide copies of the By-Laws as they existed in 1994 when we purchased the camp and the by-law changes as they were made up to the present time
  • Please forward a copy of the By-laws for the Girl Guide Land Corporation that was in effect in 1994, and who held the Camp Tewateno Property deed in trust for Champlain and Maple Leaf Divisions.
  • Please explain your definition of ‘performance management’ as it is stated in your July 16th letter in regards to the termination of our memberships in GGC.  We are interested how this term applies to long-service volunteers with many awards to their credit for service to Girl Guides of Canada as well as many thousands of volunteer hours.



The Camp Tewateno Development Committee

Copy to :         Chris Burton, Chief Commissioner

                        National Directors

One Comment
  1. What a courageous and thought out letter. My support is with all of you , does this mean only camp Tweteno is being looked after or are all the camps going to benifit from this???
    Keep up the good work and hold strong.


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