According to multiple interviews and letters from members of the Bigstone Cree Nation, many individuals were not allowed to vote for chief and council, while others in a similar circumstance interestingly where.
It seems there where two key problems with the election which led to problematic voting.
According to members like Renae B., there were serious problems when it came to open lines of communication during the election, and a complete lack of transparency regarding voting during the actual day.
I went to vote in the Bigstone Cree Nation election. I had gone to the registration room that was located inside the restaurant of the Continental Inn. There were two lineups that were very long and crowded which people had to wait and was very disorganized.
After waiting for 20 minutes in the lineup I went to the voter list desk and I provided my Bigstone Cree Nation treaty status card to the clerk and she said I was not on the voting list. I was then told to get into the other line and the clerk would call the Bigstone Cree Nation membership clerk.
I then waited for 90 minutes for a response and I was not informed if I was on the membership voting list. While I was waiting the people working the polling station had announced they are closing the voting booth. I was then told I needed to call the electoral officer and Bigstone Cree nation membership clerk.
October 30/2018: I had called the electoral officer Marvin Yellowhorn and I was unable to reach him. Then I called the Bigstone Cree Nation membership clerk and I was not successful in contacting the staff there.
Furthermore, I was never informed or provided any information about any voter eligibility for the Bigstone Cree Nation Election. I feel that my basic human rights have been trampled on and I will take legal action if this is not followed up.
This goes against my Canadian charter of rights and freedoms act. I have already contacted the United Nations and Indian Affairs about this matter. I am not the only band member who was unable to vote, there was many who were denied.
I hope this can be followed up and thank you for your time.
In other cases members like Melissa A where turned away from the voting booth for being bill-C 31 status, while individuals like Veissha M, whose letter is quoted below, were allowed to vote while being Bill C-31.
On October 29, 2018, at about 10:00 am I arrived at the continental Irm, in Edmonton, Alberta to the Bigstone Cree Nation Election poll. I stood in line and noticed there were a couple people ahead of me that were not on the list. They were passed down to the next lady who then took their name and status card number and added it to another list after filling out a small form with their information on that as well.
When it was my turn I was not on the first list and had gone through the same process as the people ahead of me before receiving my ballot. There were other people in the line behind me who also had the same issue with not being on the list and going through the same process. I then signed for my ballot and was able to vote. I overheard the ladies giving the ballots and checking the names on the list say that they were using an old list and that it has not been updated yet. I am Bill C-31 and have never had to do the process of collecting 20 BCN signatures. I have never voted before until this day.
This rather intense gap between who can vote and cannot is a serious problem given the overall lack of support most indigenous individuals receive. While Bill C-31 status is complex, it is extremely worrying that members were not properly informed regarding their status within the band, and realistically will not be in the future.
Renae for example still has not received a call back from any Bigstone individual and it has been almost two weeks since the vote.
This is an ongoing story and new developments will be added.
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