First Nation prepares to vote for new council

The Akisqnuk First Nation will select three councillors and their chief from nine candidates.

The Akisqnuk First Nation is preparing for elections next week, with voters selecting three councillors and their chief from nine candidates.

“It’s a pretty healthy election,” said Akisqnuk communications co-ordinator Adrian Bergles, speaking about the full slate of candidates for the May 20th vote.

The band council consists of four councillors and a chief, all of which are four-year term positions. Normally the terms are staggered, with only two or three councillors voted in at any given election and the remaining positions then decided in another election a couple years later.

This year is different, since one councillor has stepped down mid-term, in effect creating a by-election-type situation, resulting in one more open council seat to be decided in this year’s election.

“It is a pretty big vote for the First Nation, with four spots, including the chief’s position up for election,” said Mr. Bergles.

The Akisqnuk have their own custom election regulations, which they have been using for several years. Under the regulations, in a year in which the chief’s position is up for election, the candidate garnering the highest number of votes is offered the role of chief.

This year, candidates receiving the second and third highest number of votes will be elected to four-year terms, and the candidate with the fourth highest number of votes will take over the remaining two years of the term of the councillor stepping down.

The incumbent chief, Lorne Shovar, and two incumbent councillors, Beatrice Stevens and Marguerite Copper, are running again. They are joined on the ballot by Allan Nicholas, Jason Nicholas, Jennifer Nicholas-Hall, Rosemary Phillips, Lillian Rose and Don Sam.

The election process began with nomination meetings in early April and included an all-candidates forum two weeks ago.

All members of the Akisqnuk First Nation  (located between Windermere and Fairmont Hot Springs) on the band list who are 18 or older are eligible to vote and can do so by mail, by phone or at the Akisqnuk office.

“We try to make it as easy as possible for people to vote,” said Mr. Bergles.

The new councillors will take office 30 days after the election and, during that 30-day period, will sit in as the previous council wraps up its final month.

“This just gives them (the new councillors) a month to wrap their head around what happens at council without being thrown right into the fire,” said Mr. Bergles.

There are 271 people on the Akisqnuk band list; 206 are eligible to vote.