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Politics
South Slave

KFN members vote to initiate election eligibility rule changes


Members of the Kátł’odeeche First Nation met on Thursday to discuss and vote on motions that, if passed in a referendum, will alter how its elections are run.

After more than two hours of deliberation, members voted to change two rules in KFN’s election code, meeting moderator Wally Schumann – a former territorial minister – confirmed on Friday morning.  

The current election code states members wishing to run for chief or council must have lived on-reserve for two years prior to election day.

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Proposed amendments placed before members suggested changing the two-year residency requirement to 60 days, and changing the on-reserve rule so any member living within 60 km of the reserve is eligible.

At Thursday night’s meeting, members further changed those proposals. They voted through a final motion that states anyone living for any period of time on traditional KFN territory – the boundaries of which are to be defined by council – should be eligible to run for chief or council.

Members decided council should call a referendum at which this amendment, and an online voting amendment, will be voted on. The referendum should take place prior to the by-election for chief that is supposed to happen this summer.

This week’s discussion followed Elaine Auger’s appeal against a rule in the band’s custom election code that prevented her from running for chief last year. She had not lived on the reserve for the past two consecutive years. With Auger ruled out, Chief April Martel was acclaimed.

After Auger’s appeal, Michael Hansen, an independent adjudicator, ordered that the First Nation hold a by-election for the position of chief. Hansen ruled the election code violated Auger’s Charter rights.

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Cabin Radio reached out to 10 members of KFN for comment on Friday, including Chief Martel, but received no response.

A vote on whether KFN should intervene in a Supreme Court case that has similarities to Auger’s appeal was postponed.

Intervening in that case would not affect the outcome of the current adjudication process, but could have significant impacts on how the Charter applies to future First Nations elections in Canada.

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