Meet the Candidates: Six Nations By-Election

Alaina Vanevery

Alaina had run for seat on council in the 58th general election in 2019, bringing in 589 votes and coming in 10th place, just 20 votes shy of winning a seat in the council chambers.

During that campaign and eventual election, she had issues with the election code and the way the election was run, and had even made a formal complaint to the Six Nations Integrity Commission (which was never resolved).

One of her biggest campaign platforms is to see the election code revised, with community input.

“I think it gave me more fuel to continue on,” VanEvery said of her last election bid and decision to run again in the by-election.

She said there is a lack of integrity on council.

“I did see it’s a systematic problem and the only way to change that is from the inside. The election code was way too subjective. There’s way too much room for interpretation of what’s written there.”

VanEvery, who is a Mohawk, Wolf Clan, also believes they need to go back to having 12 councillors instead of the current nine.

“A lot of the councillors are finding nine councillors aren’t enough with workload. Add back to 12 councillors.”

Respect for the traditional Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council is big for VanEvery.

“I think there has to be genuine acts of respect that are shown. That exceeds letters. You can send all the letters you want but generally they fall on deaf ears.”

She also thinks the name of “chief” should be changed to chairperson.

“That’s all that position is. I think that every time someone addresses that position as chief it is showing disrespect to our hereditary system. You can’t move forward in a relationship when there’s constant disrespect. I think there might be some backlash from people that are used to that system and are comfortable with how it is but change is imperative for us to move forward and change is uncomfortable for us.”

VanEvery says her desire to run is fuelled by a desire to serve the community.

“I fundamentally believe that when you are in public service you work for the community. I find that lacking.”

VanEvery is a single mom who volunteers a lot, has a heart for elders, and sat as chair for the Six Nations of the Grand River Economic Development Trust, but she took a leave to run for the councillor position.

“I believe this community could be a great place to live and right. Now it’s not. The issues that we have now, it’s not a great place to raise and to go to work, but it can be. I have motivation to make it that way.

She also wants to create a central “help donation” system where community members can sit as volunteers and offer their expertise or help in any capacity and those in need of assistance can access the help with no strings attached, or red tape.

VanEvery is also concerned with food sovereignty, saying it’s time for the community to produce and provide its own food if another pandemic should hit.

Six Nations should also see benefits coming from the use of its water, she says – the Grand River, that is – and that’s not currently happening.

Economic development is really trying to create economic growth that is insulated from a future pandemic. Green energy where money coming from.”

She doesn’t want to make promises she can’t keep, she says, but councillors need to be seen out and about in the community, visiting constituents door to door, like they used to.

“I would like to see a requirement for councillors to be visiting people on a regular basis. Our sense of community has gone out the window. That needs to come back.”

Nick “Nitro” Wyman

Branding himself as a “candidate of the people”, Nick Wyman is another hopeful candidate who says there is a lack of transparency with the current elected system.

This is Wyman’s third attempt at landing a seat as an elected leader — he previously ran in a two man race for District 5 in the 2018 by-election where he acquired just 17 votes, losing to current councillor Kerry Bomberry,  and then again in 2019 for the 58th council where he came in last out of the 17 people running with 262 votes.

Wyman says he is committed to bring community members aboard when it comes to making decisions and says youth input should also be sought by council.

Wyman, owner of a popular local restaurant, says he’ll bring “business acumen” to his role if elected, and he will use that to advocate for creating a local economy instead of relying on government funding to run the reserve.

Transparency, accountability, responsibility are lacking, Wyman said.

He said more meetings have been held in-camera than ever and the veil needs to be lifted from council.

“A lot of things have been hidden to a level and that breeds distrust and fear.”

One of the first things he intends to do, if elected, is demand council have in-person meetings again at council chambers.

“A lot of people don’t trust what’s going on in council anymore. Yes, Covid is still here but why not open? Let’s open things up. That’s a demand I would put in right away. They don’t know what’s happening behind closed doors and it’s bugging everybody.”

Wyman says he’ll bring a business perspective to council to help create economic opportunities,

“I own multiple businesses. I might bring a different way of looking at things.  They’re lacking the business acumen that the Six Nations band council used to have.”

Wyman is holding a meet and greet Thursday night at his business, the Dixieland Grill, where he hopes to hear concerns from people and what they would like to see council work on.

“I want to hear what the community wants – their input. You have to help me make the decisions. It’s more of a fact-finding mission to find out what to do on day one if elected.”

Two other candidates are running in the by-election but could not be reached. Those candidates are Gregory Frazer, and Vernice “Pixie” Gladys Hill.

Gregory Frazer ran in the 2019 election and came in 11th place behind Alaina VanEvery with 571 votes.

The by-election will take place in person on Sept. 3 at Dajoh (the elder’s centre beside the Six Nations Community) on Fourth Line Road. Previous elections have utilized online voting, however for this by-election only in person voting has been announced.

In order to vote, you must be a Six Nations band member and present a valid Indian Status Card at the time of voting.

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