Six Nations Election Code review to host final community engagement session

OHSWEKEN — The Six Nations Election Code has been under review by the people of Six Nations of the Grand River over eight months of community consultation sessions. This Friday, the Election Code committee will present the findings from those discussions to the community in advance of making revisions — updating a decades old policy and bringing the process of how Six Nations selects it’s elected leadership into the new millennium.

The volunteer committee collected feedback from community members during engagement sessions, through online questionnaires and paper surveys — asking what changes, rules and regulations Six Nations community members want to include in the process of electing leaders to sit on the community’s band council.

That research data will be collected and presented at the final community engagement session on November 23 at the Six Nations Community Hall starting at 5 p.m..

“In a lot of cases there were not a lot of people that came out but we had some great conversations, two hour conversations. People had a lot to say. They filled out the surveys. They had a lot to say about things they liked, things they didn’t like, how they would like to see changes happen, it was good. It was usually a very good conversation.” Said Claudine VanEvery-Albert, one of the Six Nations Elections Code committee volunteers.

Another of the team’s volunteers, Wilma Green, said getting into those good long conversations has been a crucial part of the next step of revising the elections code — giving the committee context to why the community wants to see the changes they are asking for. “We’ve asked the community for explanations as to what they want to see. As opposed to just saying, we want to see the districts amalgamated, we’ve asked the community why they want to see that happen. That will help us decide how to write it,” said Green.

The committee held 12 meetings in total. After six meetings the feedback the committee says community members continually pointed back to the same items they want to see revised in the current elections code.

Changes to the number of electoral districts and number of councillors, changes to the length of terms, limiting the number of terms a councillor can serve, establishing minimum education requirements for councillors and establishing an integrity commission either by appointment or election — to uphold a code of conduct and oath of office for councillors were all regularly addressed issues during community consultation sessions.

This prompted the committee to create an online survey specifically addressing these issues and seeking community response online.

Currently there are 12 elected councillors sitting on the council, two per district, and one elected chief who sits as the administrative head of the council. The elected chief has no vote during council’s decision making process. There is no educational requirements for a person to be nominated to run and each person elected sits for a three year term. This version of the elections code was established in 1995.

After the findings are reported to the community the Elections Code committee will then begin the work of drafting a revised code — to be presented to the community with a referendum vote to take place on Bread and Cheese Day 2019. These new regulations will then be in place for the 2019 nominations in the fall.

There are still a few days to participate in the survey online at for Six Nations band members. The current 1995 version of the Six Nations Elections Code is available for community review. You have to include your 10-digit band number along with your answers to the survey. There are also paper surveys available at the Six Nations Elected Council administration office in Ohsweken and there will be opportunity to provide feedback at the meeting on Friday.

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