Beardy's passes community-driven Election Act amendments
- EFN Staff | January 02, 2017
Beardy’s and Okemasis First Nation had recently passed 11 amendments in their election act on December 19th. Band Councillor, Kevin Seesequasis, said the First Nations band had Band Custom Election Act since 2003 and it was the community felt it was time to make changes. They renamed it Beardy’s & Okemasis’ Cree Nation Election Act.
“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,” says Councillor Leighanne Gardipy-Bill in the First Nations band media release.
The amendments were passed by the Yahkohtewin (We are moving forward) Governance Planning Committee, which was led by Councillor Gardipy-Bill.
“We consulted extensively with the community and we received a lot of feedback. We’re very happy that 11 out of the 11 amendments that were proposed were adopted. It was a real good day,” says Seesequasis.
Some of those amendments were reducing their council from eight members to six council members – which Seesequasis says it is estimated to save the band at least $350,000 over the course of a term. The First Nations band has also introduced mandatory drug testing for any candidate who wishes to seek nominations for council or as chief, which originated from a resolution that came from their membership in 2008. Another amendment that was passed is introducing candidate election fees.
“Individuals seeking nomination will have to pay a fee now: $400 a chief and $200 for council and those fees will be used to offset the costs of the election. Typical election in Beardy’s costs anywhere from $20,000 to $25,000,” Seesequasis says. “It will be in effect for this coming election in March .”
The councillor adds this was a community-driven process and it wasn’t some committee sitting in a backroom, scheming and planning these amendments. It stemmed from their community members putting the recommendations forth and ultimately using their voices, wisdom and their knowledge that guided the leadership, as he describes, into something very positive for their nation.
“We’ve heard from a lot of community members saying that these were positive steps in the right direction. They understood the need to save some money. Of course, the band is in financial debt. Any measure that we have put into place in respect to eradicating the debt or working to better our finances has been met very positively within the community,” he adds. “I’m glad individuals within the community felt the time for change and they felt the importance of the amendments that were put forth.”
Beardy’s and Okemasis First Nation is 92 kilometres north of Saskatoon.