For Immediate Release
December 20, 2016
BEARDY’S & OKEMASIS FIRST NATION ADOPTS SUITE OF ELECTION ACT CHANGES
Beardy’s & Okemasis First Nation, Treaty 6 – “We, the people of the Beardy’s and Okemasis’ Cree Nation have the inherent right to govern ourselves according to our customs, traditions, and natural laws of the nehiyawak” reads the opening line of the newly amended Beardy’s & Okemasis’ Cree Nation Election Act.
More than 150 people attended a duly-convened, special meeting on Monday, December 19th to amend the former Band Custom Election Act at the community’s Rec Centre.
“I am truly honoured to have been part of the team that facilitated the amendment process to our Election Act. The committee facilitated this process through extensive planning and consultation, by retaining our legal counsel: Koren Lightening-Earle, and organizing and promoting the vote” explains Councillor Leighanne Gardipy-Bill, the Chair of the Yahkohtewin Governance Planning Committee. “The ultimate law amending authority rests with our membership, and I would like to thank them for participating in every step of this journey; and especially, the guidance of our Elders: Betsy Gamble, Suzanne Seeseequasis, Angus Esperance and Charlie Sutherland. They have kept us grounded and motivated by reminding us that this work is for our children and those still to come. Nanaskamon.”
In total, 11 amendments were proposed and adopted to the newly re-titled Beardy’s & Okemasis’ Cree Nation Election Act including provisions for mandatory drug testing, reducing council from 8 to 6 councillors, and adding candidate election fees: $400.00 for Chief; Councillors pay $200.
“In 2008, our community members voted unanimously to adopt mandatory drug testing for Council – that motion was never enacted” recalled Councillor Kevin Seesequasis. “Yesterday’s adoption of mandatory drug testing in our Election Act honours the spirit and intent of that original motion 8 years ago.”
“The reduction from 8 to 6 councillors will save the Nation more than $350,000 over the course of a term, this is money that can be diverted to service long-term debt, or enhance existing programming” added Councillor Jeremy Seeseequasis. “The new fees for candidates means that the band will no longer incur significant debt to fund our elections.”
“The amendments that were adopted are not new. They have been discussed and debated for at least 2 decades, they belong to the community. The words within the new Election Act are the voice of our people and are an extension of who we are as a Nation. This is an incredibly proud day” concluded Councillor Roy Petit.
The document also received a face lift including a new cover page, some re-formatting, and a new layout to improve readability.
The revised Election Act will be available online shortly at www.bofn9697.com/governance.
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