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 effects 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.”
The new election, which will determine the tribal council will be held on September 1st, 2015. The election to determine the chief will follow, 21 days later. The current council and chief will serve Kehewin until the election results are determined. All off-reserve members of Kehewin are encouraged to contact the band office to ensure the office has your current address. The band office can be reached at 780-826-3333 or online kehewincreenation.ca