With more than 30 years on the job, Sonia Kosokowsky has seen a lot of growth during her time with the Meadow Lake Tribal Council (MLTC). “It (MLTC) started in 1981, while I came on in 1984,” explained Kosokowsky, who now serves as MLTC’s senior accountant. “MLTC had an office downtown and an office on Flying Dust, but we didn’t have all the programs we have now. MLTC did not have the many Health programs then, nor the Child and Family Services Program which resulted in two additional entities being created. MLTC originally had about a $50,000 budget. MLTC went from something small to, every year, constantly expanding with more programs.”
MLTC moved into its current office building on Flying Dust First Nation in the summer of 1997. “We now have so many staff and so many programs, there is a shortage of office space,” Kosokowsky noted. “We’re even doubling and tripling up in offices. We do need more space. In the finance department alone, we started off with one or two staff, but now there are six of us and we are very busy.”
As senior accountant, Kosokowsky has a number of responsibilities one would typically associate with such a job. Some of these include looking after accounts payable, accounts receivable, day-to-day banking, payroll, financial statements and working closely with MLTC’s Budget Officer and Sr Director of Finance. A big part of MLTC’s Accounting Team’s job, she added, is ensuring accountability to the member First Nations when it comes to money coming and going from MLTC coffers.
“We’ve come to the point now where our documentation, our accountability, our processing are all part of a very good system. I think we are a model of best practices. The MLTC Accounting Team works closely with HR as well, we don’t process any pay cheques without it going through HR first. It’s a very good process… We are stewards of money that is not ours. It belongs to the communities and our systems make sure that the money is accounted for.”
Kosokowsky’s career with MLTC began after a four week placement at the Gov’t of SK Social Services department, that led to being referred to MLTC for a position of administrative support that was available. “For the first few months I was doing typical office stuff like typing letters and answering phones, but I didn’t really enjoy it. Then I shifted to finance and loved it. I have been here for 34 years.”
Originally from Goodsoil, Kosokowsky attended school in that community. She also said her time spent at MLTC has been an eye-opener in terms of First Nations culture and what life has been like for Canada’s Indigenous people.
“By working with First Nations people I have been humbled,” she said. “I discovered that I knew almost nothing about Indigenous culture and history. What we were taught in school wasn’t the truth… in terms of residential schools and so on, I did not know things like that happened. I also enjoy the many stories that the elders share. Their lives, experiences, knowledge and their strength. Working at MLTC has been a very rewarding experience. There is a lot of diversity here…I still have so much to learn.”
On a personal note, Kosokowsky had three children from a previous relationship including a daughter who is married and has three daughters. She lives in Cold Lake, another daughter who lives in Revelstoke, and a son who died in a car crash when he was 19. She is now married to Meadow Lake resident Ian Kosokowsky who has two grown children of his own, as well as a granddaughter. She is also looking forward to more time with family when she retires in a little more than a year’s time.
“I’m am planning on retiring on Jan. 1, 2020. Then we’re going to travel,” she said. “We’ll tour places in Canada and the U.S. first, then go international. We’re just going to get our feet wet a little at first, see how we like it and spend more time with our grandkids.”