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Woman challenges Kátł’odeeche election eligibility rule

A file photo of Kátł’odeeche First Nation land
A file photo of Kátł’odeeche First Nation land. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio

A Kátł’odeeche First Nation woman is challenging the custom election code requirement that anyone running for chief must have lived on the reserve for the past two years.

Elaine Auger, a member of the First Nation, says she moved back to the community in July after living in Vancouver for six years. She tried to run for chief but found her name left off the ballot.

Chief April Martel was instead acclaimed to a second term in September, unopposed. Elections for six councillor positions and district education authority seats took place on Wednesday.

Auger says she was barred from running as she hasn’t lived on the reserve for the past two consecutive years.



That rule is in the election code, Auger acknowledges, and she says the result “wasn’t surprising.” But she feels the outcome should still be challenged because, in her view, the First Nation’s custom election code is outdated.

“I wanted to run for equal opportunity and representation for the membership,” she said.

“I’ve been getting comments that there’s no transparency and that nothing’s being done in terms of infrastructure or programming, so it’s just having the ability to represent my membership, support them, and be there for them.”

Auger says she has retained a lawyer and is following the appeals process, with a hearing scheduled for the new year.



“If I don’t get my name on the ballot I will be challenging it to the Supreme Court, if it’s not accepted by the adjudicator,” she said.

Chief Martel told Cabin Radio she did not have enough information about Auger’s appeal to answer questions about it. The chief said she would have more to say in January, when more information is available.

Martel confirmed the First Nation’s custom election code requires that candidates live and reside on the reserve for two years prior to an election.