Kehewin has Elected its Tribal Council

On September 1st, 2015 Kehewin held an election for Tribal Council which saw three new faces among the seven elected. The newly elected include Benjamin (Benny) Badger, Brenda Joly, and Trevor John. Returning to council are Gordon Gadwa Sr., Willie John, Jason Mountain, and Vernon Watchmaker.

In May of 2015, a new election was ordered following a settlement in Federal Court that found the election from March of 2014 null and void after off-reserve members of Kehewin were not given a mail-in ballot, nor were they allowed to run for office.  In June a nomination hearing was held, in Kehewin, which resulted in 31 people nominated for council. Eric Gadwa served as Chief from the null and void election, he ran for office in this past election; however failed to secure a seat on council by seven votes, thus he will not be able to run for Chief in the upcoming election.

Kehewin will now hold a Tribal Chief election  to determine the new Tribal Chief, which will be held on September 29th, 2015 from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm at the Rec Centre in Kehewin. Advance polls will be held at the Chateau Louise, in Edmonton, on September 22nd, 2015 from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. For more information contact the Kehewin Band Office at 780-826-3333.

*Update: The matter of determining who can run for Chief is being under review. The language used in the election rules is unclear, stating that to run for Chief a councillor “should have” served a term on council before running for Chief. Since the language is “should have”, not “must have” the issue is currently under review. If a councillor wishes to run for Chief he/she must declare his/her intention to run by 11:59 pm Friday, September 4th, 2015.

**Update 2: it has been decided that ANY Councillor can run for Chief in the Chief election.

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***Update 3: There will be an Emergency Ban Meeting Tuesday at 6 pm

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****Update 4: the four Councillors who have put his/her name in to run for Chief are: (in alphabetical order)

Gordon Gadwa Sr.

William John

Brenda Joly

Jason Mountain

 

Background 

On May 12th, 2015  a settlement was reached in Federal Court, in Edmonton, Alberta, that Kehewin Cree Nation will hold a new election after not making available mail in ballots for the previous election held in March of 2014. The election allowed off-reserve members to vote, only if they were present in Kehewin on election day to do so.

The case stems from an appeal made by barrister, Tina Dion, to the Kehewin election officer regarding the absence of mail-in ballots. Dion says she made the appeal because, “there weren’t mail-in ballots provided for off-reserve members, nor were off-reserve members able to run in the election.” Dion says the law is clear on that matter, “First Nation governments must provide off-reserve members with mail-in ballots and permit them to run for office.”

Dion says the law applies to all, “whether you’re a custom code band or not, the law still applies and it affects our Charter Rights when it’s not followed.” Kehewin Cree Nation considers themselves a custom code band.  Dion further re-enforces it’s an off-reserve members constitutional right to be able to vote in any reserve election.

Stemming from the case, the settlement reached is that there will be a new election. “The last election is basically null and void,” explains Dion for the new election, “mail-in ballots will be available for all off-reserve members and for them to be able to be nominated for office.” Dion says, “it’s unfortunate that they (the elections officials for Kehewin) required me to go this far (Federal Court) for something they ought to have done in the first place.”

Dion wants to see members of Kehewin involved in the political process and standing up for what they believe is right, “when we see something that we didn’t like, to attempt to correct it and the government should make best efforts to do that.”

Dion leaves closing sentiments, “we all want to work together and I’m hoping that that’s what this initiates.” Dion wants to help build a better, stronger Kehewin, “now we’ve settled it, let’s move forward and work together to build a better Kehewin for tomorrow.”

 

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