Today until 6 pm, the Canim Lake Band is holding a referendum to amend our custom election code. There are two questions.
For question one, I am voting for Option II, to allow for the Chief and Council to reside on or off reserve.
For question two, I am voting YES to allow the use of electronic voting through the OneFeather App.
I am voting for Option II because both options I and III are illegal. These residency requirements have been found to be DISCRIMINATORY. If the Band were sued, they would likely lose a court case. Why would we knowingly and willingly discriminate against our own families?
Option III is only a half measure but is still meant to keep power on-reserve. Courts have found half-measures like this to still be discriminatory. That’s because they create what is called a super-majority. If you do the math, there are two councillors who can reside off-reserve but FIVE (including Chief) who will still be required to live on-reserve. That means off-reserve councillors would be at a permanent disadvantage and can be outvoted at any time.
I believe that discriminating against our own family for power is not who we are nor who we aspire to be. I believe that we are generous and caring, and that our table is big enough for everyone. I work every day in my job to make sure that Tsq’escen’s voice is included. That voice is stronger when we raise it together. In Secwepemctsin, we say Nekwetsin, One Voice.
In addition, we have to move past our colonial history. Options I and III, not allowing councillors to leave the reserve, is an extension of the pass system! The pass system meant that Indians couldn’t leave the reserve without receiving a “pass” from the Indian Agent. It was meant to totally control the Indians. By voting for Option II, we have a chance to consciously choose to leave this past behind. To choose Secwepemc values of Family, Inclusiveness, and Generosity over the Indian Act, Discrimination, and Colonization.