There are six people in the race to become the next chief of the Carcross/Tagish First Nation.
They are deputy chief Danny Cresswell, Eileen Wally, Shirley Beattie, Donnie Smith, George Shephard and Stanley Jim Jr.
Nominations closed on Tuesday. The candidates had to get 50 signatures on their forms to enter the race, said returning officer Bonnie Barber.
The election is scheduled for May 25. It will be the first time the First Nation has elected a chief in nearly a decade.
Under self-government, the First Nation did away with the electoral structure imposed by the Indian Act, opting instead for a more traditional process, which recognizes its clan system.
Through that process, six clan leaders appointed the chief, or Kha Shade Heni, as the position is now called.
The clans range in size from six to more than 300 members. But they all have equal voice on the executive council.
For various reasons, many people in the community do not have a clan.
Avenues for these people, coined “children of the community,” to have a say on the council have been put in place, but there are lots of problems.
Protesters barricaded the aboriginal government’s main administration building in January 2011, locking out workers for two days and raising concerns about the system.
A constitutional review committee was struck. Its members included protesters and First Nation government workers.
It offered several options to the community. They included creating a new, bigger government assembly, made up of more than 40 members; calling a full election for chief and council and scrapping the clan system altogether; keeping the clan system intact, but better accommodating those in the community who do not have a clan; or choosing to elect the chief, but continuing to appoint councillors by clan.
The First Nation chose the last option and a resolution was passed in early December to change the constitution.
Former Kha Shade Heni, Mark Wedge, finished his term in early November, meaning the top position has been vacant ever since.
After the resolution to change the constitution was passed, the six clans appointed a new executive council.
Chief hopefuls Cresswell and Shepherd were the only incumbents.
Cresswell was appointed deputy Kha Shade Heni by consensus and he’s in charge until a new leader is elected in May.
Whoever takes the spot will have a lot to deal with right off the bat.
The First Nation may not have any money come September.
It is supposed to negotiate a new financial transfer agreement with Ottawa every five years. That transfer largely makes up the First Nation’s entire budget to provide services to its more than 500 members.
The previous financial transfer agreement with Ottawa ran out on March 31.
Negotiations for a new one ended in a stalemate in May 2011.
Cresswell has been able to negotiate a six-month extension on the previous arrangement, but nothing more has been achieved yet.
Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at firstname.lastname@example.org