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3.8  Elections


 

3.8.1. Background

How the representatives of your governing body are chosen will vary from First Nation to First Nation.  Whatever system is in place must be recognized and supported by those who are governed.  The governing body of “bands” subject to a ministerial order under section 74 of the Indian Act consists of a Chief and Council that are elected by the adult members (citizens) of the First Nation.  Some First Nations have election codes or constitutions that set out a clear and transparent process for electing the governing body.  In other cases, Custom Councils are selected in accordance with the traditional laws and customs of that particular Nation.  As First Nations move from band governance under the Indian Act, some will want to incorporate traditional laws or custom rules regarding leadership selection into their new election laws and policies.

 

3.8.2. Indian Act Governance

Communities under the Indian Act do have options as to how they select their leadership: either by ‘custom’ or by the default rules set out in the Indian Act.

 

The way elections work for First Nations governed under the Indian Act is somewhat strange.  All “bands” select their leaders in accordance with custom unless the Minister of Indian Affairs orders that a band be listed in the ‘Indian Band Council Election Order’ (SOR/97-138).  If such order is made, your Nations’ elections will be held in accordance with the Indian Act rules.  Most “bands” in BC were initially named in the order under section 74 (1) of the Indian Act. However, some have been removed and now hold their elections under their own rules outside the Indian Act.  If you are not sure if your community is still subject to a 74(1) order and under the Indian Act rules for elections, you can check the Indian Band Council Election Order.

 

Under the Indian Act, the Minister may remove your “band” from the Indian Act and Indian Band Council Election Order for purposes of reversion to custom elections.  The Deputy Minister of Indian Affairs, the chief administrative officer of INAC in Ottawa, has the delegated authority to rescind the Minister’s Order on behalf of the Minister.  To revert to custom elections, your Nation will have to satisfy INAC of this intention.   A number of conditions have been established by INAC.  The following checklist is adapted from the useful legal text, First Nations Governance Law, and outlines the steps a “band” must take to move from elections under the Indian Act to elections according to its own custom:

  1. Obtain consent by referendum of all members of the “band” of the intention to convert the election process to the custom of the “band.”

  2. Develop a written election code that is accepted by the members of the “band” and that meets minimal legal requirements.  These requirements involve addressing the following considerations:

     

    a) The election code must be in a clear written form.

     

b) The election code must include a provision for the settlement of election appeals that does not involve INAC.

c) The election code must provide a process for amendments to the code with community concurrence.  The process for amendments to the election code must not involve INAC.

d) The election code must observe the principles of natural justice.

e) The election code must be consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  Specifically, the election code must not prohibit off-reserve members from voting, and must provide for a realistic mechanism to allow off-reserve members to participate in the election process.

f) The election code must be approved by a majority of “band” members who are 18 or older voting by secret ballot.  Alternatively, the community may approve the election code in a manner agreed upon in advance by the “band” and INAC.

g) Provide the following information to the Regional Director General of INAC for review:

    i) A copy of the election code along with a council resolution passed by a quorum of the chief and council adopting the election code.

    ii) A copy of a list of all eligible electors, as defined in section 2 of the Indian Act.

    iii) An affidavit executed by the person who was in charge of managing the conversion process.  This affidavit must set out the steps followed to inform the electors of the implications of a conversion to a community election system; the content of the code; their right to vote; and the voting procedures.  The affidavit must also state the results of the vote.

    iv) Evidence of consent and notice that the band wishes to control membership and that the band accepts the submitted membership code.

  1. Obtain an official response from the Minister.

If, after considering the materials provided and the recommendations of the Regional Director General, the Minister is satisfied the above requirements have been met, s/he makes an order removing the band from the application of section 74 and related election provisions of the Indian Act.  As the order falls under the Statutory Instruments Act (R.S.C. 1985, c. S-22), the Minister’s order must be transmitted to the Clerk of the Privy Council for registration within seven days of the making of the order.  The ministerial order does not come into force unless it is transmitted and registered.

 

In BC, 127 of our communities originally holding elections under the Indian Act have followed this procedure to replace Indian Act rules with their own Custom Election Codes [note: 12 Self-Governing First Nations are including in this number: 6 additional communities codes pending approval].   Copies of these Custom Election Codes can be found on the BCAFN website for reference and research purposes.

 

3.8.3. Sectoral Governance Initiatives

In BC, there are no sectoral governance initiatives addressing the issue of First Nations taking control of their own elections at this time.  There are, however, discussions taking place between INAC and First Nations in the Atlantic Region and Manitoba to develop alternatives to elections under the Indian Act.  If this proposal is accepted, it could become national in scope and an option for our First Nations in BC.

 

On their website www.nwmo.ca/apc, the Atlantic Policy Congress (APC) sets out why their Nations do not like the current system of elections under the Indian Act.  They point to weaknesses in the system that destabilize First Nations’ governments and prevent them from moving forward on important projects.  They are concerned that the two-year term for Chiefs and Councils gives officials very little time to learn their responsibilities before the next election.  This, they say, creates political instability and does not make First Nations very attractive for long-term investment and economic development.  Other problems with the Indian Act election system they cite are:

  • no limit on how many positions persons living off-reserve can hold;
  • loose nomination process that allows the nomination of candidates who are not serious or dedicated, often resulting in excess of 100 candidates vying for between three and twelve positions in a given election;
  • no way to prevent one person from running and being elected as both Chief and Councillor.  If the same person is elected to both positions and wishes to only hold one, the vacancy has to be filled through another lengthy and costly by-election.
  • a mail-in ballot system that is open to abuse;
  • the Indian Act election system has no defined offences and penalties, making it impossible to prosecute corrupt practices that, if they were to take place in a federal, provincial or municipal election, would be illegal and subject to criminal prosecution;
  • involvement of the Minister in reviewing, investigating and deciding upon election appeals, which takes too long; and,
  • no system of recall.

 

The APC is recommending a new and modern First Nations’ Elections Act (and regulations) as an alternative to the Indian Act system for the election of Band Councils.  Presumably this would be an interim step to any comprehensive governance arrangements their Nations may enter into in the future, as is the case with other sectoral governance initiatives.  First Nations would, under this proposal, opt-in to this new election system.

The APC and the Manitoba Chiefs are proposing this as a national initiative and are seeking the views of other provincial and territorial organizations as well as individual Nations.

 

3.8.4. Comprehensive Governance Arrangements

All comprehensive self-government arrangements provide for the Nation to establish the rules for conducting elections either in their constitution or in an election code or election law.

 

3.8.4.1. – Comprehensive Governance Arrangement - Comparative Charts

 

  General Jurisdiction:

Sechelt

The council has, to the extent that it is authorized by its constitution, the power to make laws in relation to the conduct of band elections and referenda.  (s. 14. (1) (s)

Westbank

The Constitution shall provide for democratic elections of council by members, rules for composition of council, tenure of council members and provision for the removal of council members. (Part VI, s. 43(b)

Nisga’a

Nisga’a Lisims Government may make laws in respect of the administration, management and operation of Nisga’a Government, including elections, by-elections and referenda. (Ch. 11, s. 34(f))

Tsawwassen

Tsawwassen Government may make laws in respect of the election, administration, management and operation of Tsawwassen Government including, elections, by-elections and referenda. (Ch. 16, s. 43(e))

Maa-nulth

Each Maa-nulth First Nation Government may make laws in respect of the election, administration, management and operation of that Maa-nulth First Nation Government, including elections, by-elections and referenda. (s. 13.11.1(e))

 

  Conflict of Laws:

Sechelt

Sechelt law prevails. (s. 37)

Westbank

Westbank law prevails. (Part VI, s. 45(a))

Nisga’a

Nisga’a law prevails. (Ch. 11, s. 36)

Tsawwassen

Tsawwassen law prevails. (Ch. 16, s. 47)

Maa-nulth

Maa-nulth law prevails. (s. 13.11.5)

 

3.8.5. BC First Nations’ Laws/By-laws in Force and Other Activities

Indian Act Governance

This following is a list of BC First Nations who select their leadership either by ‘custom’ or by the default rules set out in the Indian Act:

 


 

First Nation Indian Act CUSTOM

ʔAkisq’nuk First Nation  (f.Columbia Lake)

 

CUSTOM

Adams Lake

 

CUSTOM

Ahousaht

 

CUSTOM

Aitchelitz    

 

CUSTOM

Alexandria, aka ?Esdilagh First Nation

s.74(1)**

 

Alexis Creek

s.74(1)

 

Ashcroft

s.74(1)

 

Beecher Bay

S.74(1)

 

Blueberry River First Nations

S.74(1)

 

Bonaparte

S.74(1)

 

Boothroyd

S.74(1)

 

Boston Bar First Nation

S.74(1)

 

Bridge River

S.74(1)

 

Burns Lake

S.74(1)

 

Burrard  (aka Tsleil Waututh)

S.74(1)

 

Campbell River

 

CUSTOM

Canim Lake

 

CUSTOM

Canoe Creek

S.74(1)**

 

Cape Mudge

 

CUSTOM

Cayoose Creek

 

CUSTOM

Chawathil

 

CUSTOM

Cheam

S.74(1)

 

Chehalis (aka Sts'ailes)

S.74(1)

 

Chemainus First Nation

 

CUSTOM

Cheslatta Carrier Nation

 

CUSTOM

Coldwater

 

CUSTOM

Comox (aka K’omoks First Nation)

S.74(1)

 

Cook’s Ferry

 

CUSTOM

Cowichan

S.74(1)

 

Da’naxda’xw First Nation

 

CUSTOM

Ditidaht

 

CUSTOM

Doig River

S.74(1)

 

Douglas

 

CUSTOM

Ehatteshaht

 

CUSTOM

Esketemc  (f. Alkali Lake)

 

CUSTOM

Esquimalt

 

CUSTOM

Fort Nelson First Nation

S.74(1)**

 

Gitanmaax

S.74(1)

 

Gitanyow

S.74(1)

 

Gitsegukla

S.74(1)

 

Gitwangak

S.74(1)

 

Gitxaala Nation  (f. Kitkatla)

 

CUSTOM

Glen Vowell

S.74(1)

 

Gwa’sala-Nakwaxda’xw

 

CUSTOM

Gwawaenuk Tribe (f. Kwa-wa-aineuk)

 

CUSTOM

Hagwilget Village

S.74(1)

 

Halalt

S.74(1)

 

Halfway River First Nation

S.74(1)

 

Hartley Bay

 

CUSTOM

Heiltsuk

 

CUSTOM

Hesquiaht

 

CUSTOM

High Bar

 

CUSTOM

Homalco

 

CUSTOM

Hupacasath First Nation (f. Opetchesaht)

S.74(1)

 

Iskut

 

CUSTOM

Kamloops (aka Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc)

 

CUSTOM

Kanaka Bar

 

CUSTOM

Katzie

 

CUSTOM

Kispiox

S.74(1)

 

Kitamaat (aka Haisla)

S.74(1)

 

Kitasoo

S.74(1)**

 

Kitselas

S.74(1)

 

Kitsumkalum

S.74(1)

 

Klahoose First Nation

S.74(1)

 

Kluskus (aka Lkoosk'uz Dene Nation)

 

CUSTOM

Kwadacha  (f. Fort Ware)

 

CUSTOM

Kwakiutl

 

CUSTOM

Kwantlen First Nation (f. Langley)

 

CUSTOM

Kwaw-kwaw-A-Pilt

 

CUSTOM

Kwiakah

 

CUSTOM

Kwicksutaineuk-ah-kwaw-ah-mish

S.74(1)

 

Kwikwetlem First Nation (f. Coquitlam)

 

CUSTOM

Lake Babine Nation

 

CUSTOM

Lake Cowichan First Nation (f. Cowichan Lake)

 

CUSTOM

Lax-kw’alaams

S.74(1)**

 

Leq’ a: mel First Nation (f. Lakahahmen)

 

CUSTOM

Lheidli T’enneh  (f. Fort George)

S.74(1)

 

Little Shuswap Lake

 

CUSTOM

Lower Kootenay

 

CUSTOM

Lower Nicola

 

CUSTOM

Lower Similkameen

 

CUSTOM

Lyackson

 

CUSTOM

Lytton

S.74(1)

 

Malahat First Nation

S.74(1)

 

Mamalilikulla-Qwe’Qwa’Sot’Em

 

CUSTOM

Matsqui

 

CUSTOM

McLeod Lake

 

CUSTOM

Metlakatla

 

CUSTOM

Moricetown

S.74(1)

 

Mount Currie

S.74(1)

 

Mowachaht/Muchalaht

 

CUSTOM

Musqueam

S.74(1)

 

N’Quatqua (f. Anderson Lake)

 

CUSTOM

Nadleh Whuten

S.74(1)

 

Nak’azdli

 

CUSTOM

Namgis First Nation (f. Nimpkish)

 

CUSTOM

Nanoose First Nation

S.74(1)

 

Nazko

S.74(1)

 

Nee Tahi-Buhn

 

CUSTOM

Neskonlith

 

CUSTOM

New Westminister

 

CUSTOM

Nicomen

S.74(1)

 

Nooaitch

S.74(1)

 

Nuchatlaht

 

CUSTOM

Nuxalk Nation  (f. Bella Coola)

S.74(1)

 

Okanagan

S.74(1)

 

Old Massett Village Council

 

CUSTOM

Oregon Jack Creek

 

CUSTOM

Osoyoos

S.74(1)

 

Oweekeno/Wuikinuxv Nation

S.74(1)

 

Pacheedaht First Nation (f. Pacheenaht)

S.74(1)

 

Pauquachin

S.74(1)

 

Penelakut

S.74(1)

 

Penticton

 

CUSTOM

Peters

S.74(1)

 

Popkum

 

CUSTOM

Prophet River First Nation

 

CUSTOM

Qualicum First Nation

S.74(1)

 

Quatsino

S.74(1)

 

Red Bluff  (f. Quesnel, aka Lhtako Dene Nation)

S.74(1)

 

Saik’uz First Nation  (f. Stony Creek)

S.74(1)

 

Samahquam

 

CUSTOM

Saulteau First Nations

 

CUSTOM

Scowlitz

S.74(1)

 

Seabird Island

S.74(1)

 

Semiahmoo

S.74(1)

 

Seton Lake

 

CUSTOM

Shackan

 

CUSTOM

Shuswap

S.74(1)**

 

Shxw’ow’hamel First Nation

 

CUSTOM

Shxwhá:y Village  (f. Skway)

 

CUSTOM

Simpcw First Nation (f. North Thompson)

 

CUSTOM

Siska

 

CUSTOM

Skatin Nations (f. Skookumchuck)

 

CUSTOM

Skawahlook First Nation

 

CUSTOM

Skeetchestn

 

CUSTOM

Skidegate

S.74(1)

 

Skin Tyee

 

CUSTOM

Skowkale

 

CUSTOM

Skuppah

 

CUSTOM

Skwah

 

CUSTOM

Sliammon

S.74(1)

 

Snuneymuxw First Nation  (f. Nanaimo)

 

CUSTOM

Soda Creek (aka Xat'súll First Nation)

 

CUSTOM

Songhees First Nation

S.74(1)

 

Soowahlie

S.74(1)

 

Spallumcheen (aka. Splatsin)

S.74(1)

 

Spuzzum

 

CUSTOM

Squamish

 

CUSTOM

Squiala First Nation

 

CUSTOM

St. Mary’s

 

CUSTOM

Stellat’en First Nation (f. Stellaquo)

 

CUSTOM

Stone (aka Yunesit'in Government)

 

CUSTOM

Sumas First Nation

 

CUSTOM

T’it’q’et  (f. Lilloet)

 

CUSTOM

T’Sou-ke First Nation (f. Sooke)

S.74(1)

 

Tahltan

S.74(1)

 

Takla Lake First Nation

 

CUSTOM

Tl’azt’en Nation

 

CUSTOM

Tl’etinqox’t’in Government Office (f. Anaham)

S.74(1)

 

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations

S.74(1)

 

Tlatlasikwala

 

CUSTOM

Tlowitsis Tribe

 

CUSTOM

Tobacco Plains

 

CUSTOM

Toosey

S.74(1)

 

Ts’kw’aylaxw First Nation  (f. Pavilion)

 

CUSTOM

Tsartlip

S.74(1)

 

Tsawataineuk

 

CUSTOM

Tsawout First Nation

S.74(1)

 

Tsay Keh Dene

 

CUSTOM

Tseshaht (f. Sheshaht)

 

CUSTOM

Tseycum

S.74(1)

 

Tzeachten

 

CUSTOM

Ulkatcho

 

CUSTOM

Union Bar

 

CUSTOM

Upper Nicola

 

CUSTOM

Upper Similkameen

S.74(1)

 

West Moberly First Nations

 

CUSTOM

Wet’suwet’en First Nation (f.Broman Lake)

 

CUSTOM

Whispering Pines/Clinton

S.74(1)

 

Williams Lake

 

CUSTOM

Xaxli’p  (f. Fountain)

 

CUSTOM

Xeni Gwet’in First Nations Government t (f. Nemaiah Valley)

 

CUSTOM

Yakweakwioose

 

CUSTOM

Yale First Nation

 

CUSTOM

Yekooche

 

CUSTOM

Totals

77

109

 

 

Comprehensive Governance Arrangements

 

First Nation Law # Description

Huu-ay-aht First Nations

HFNA 2011

Election Act

Huu-ay-aht First Nations

HFNA 2011

Referendum and Recall Act

Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Chek’tles7et’h’ First Nations

KCFNS 8/2011

Elections Act

Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Chek’tles7et’h’ First Nations

KCFNS 18/2011

Recall Act

Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Chek’tles7et’h’ First Nations

KCFNS 9/2011

Referendum Act

Nisga’a Lisims Government

Jun 2008

Nisga'a Elections Act

Nisga’a Lisims Government

Jun 2008

Nisga'a Elections Dispute Resolution Regulation

Nisga’a Lisims Government

Jun 2008

Nisga'a Elections Regulation

Sechelt Indian Band

2007-08-10

Council Recall Law

Toquaht Nation

TNS 8/2011

Elections Act

Toquaht Nation

TNS  9/2011

Referendum Act

Tsawwassen First Nation

Apr 2009

Election Act

Tsawwassen First Nation

086-2009

Campaign Advertising Regulation

Tsawwassen First Nation

086-2009

Election Notice Regulation

Tsawwassen First Nation

086-2009

Election Officer Regulation

Tsawwassen First Nation

086-2009

Election Recount and Appeal Deposit Regulation

Tsawwassen First Nation

086-2009

Nomination Regulation

Tsawwassen First Nation

086-2009

Voting and Mail-in Ballot Regulation

Uchucklesaht Tribe

UTS 8/2011

Elections Act

Uchucklesaht Tribe

UTS 9/2011

Referendum Act

Ucluelet First Nations

YFNS 8/2011

Elections Act

Ucluelet First Nations

YFNS 9/2011

Referendum Act

Westbank First Nation

Jul 2007

Westbank First Nation Constitution

 

3.8.6. Resources

  • Department of Justice

Legislative Services Branch
284 Wellington Street, SAT-3
Ottawa, ON  K1A 0H8

BC Regional Office
Governance and Capacity Development
Suite 600 - 1138 Melville Street
Vancouver, BC  V6E 4S3

  • Atlantic Policy Congress

Cole Harbour Head Office

153 Willowdale Drive Cole Harbour

Dartmouth, NS  B2V 0A5

Phone:    1-902-435-8021

Toll Free: 1-877-667-4007

Fax:        1-902-435-8027

  • Elsipogtog First Nation Office

249 B Unit2 Main Street
Elsipogtog, NB  E4W 2X2

Phone:   506-523-1996
Fax:        506-523-1929

 

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