With Election Day for the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan coming Saturday, a local candidate for Regional Area Director is calling on all Métis citizens in the Border City eligible to cast their vote.
Crystal Miller, Carol Delorme and incumbent Billy Kennedy are all running to represent the Métis Nation Region WR1A, which covers the area spanning to the Battlefords, North to Frenchman Butte and as south as Wilkie. As well, several people are running for roles like President, VP, Secretary and Treasurer.
Candidates have been spending this time getting the word out about their platforms, and also trying to inform voters about issues that may impact them. Crystal Miller says it’s especially important, beyond who is representing them, that the Métis population know more about the decisions being made by the Nation which will be impacting them.
An example she gave was Land Claim Agreements with the Federal Government. She wants people to know exactly what they’re signing off on.
“What has been happening the last four years, even before that, has not been working. Coming into these agreements and stuff, this is big. People need to know who will be representing them, what they will be doing, and making sure they’re ensuring a good future for all of us.”
One of the ways she’s been trying to inform the public was by holding a Forum last Friday. The event featured speakers running for executive positions. Métis advocate Clément Chartier, who is running to be MN-S President for his second non-consecutive term, and Michelle LeClair, who is running to be VP were in attendance, with Miller being the local candidate there.
They spoke on several issues surrounding inclusiveness, community programming and transparency with the Métis population.
One of the challenges of this election, which candidates at the event spoke on as well, has been a recent ruling in the MN-S that only card-carrying members could be eligible to vote in Métis elections.
People like Miller and Chartier have been fighting that, saying the Nation has been excluding many of its citizens. Combined with a lack of support from current incumbents for community programs, Miller alleges, this has led to low voter turnout from their population.
“Right now, they are saying that only 20 per cent of the Métis population of Saskatchewan can vote because of that. So there’s 80 per cent out there that just simply can not vote. People who have been voting for decades, elders. That just gives you an idea of why this change is so badly needed.”
Chartier even took legal action to change the rule, but that provincial court case ruled in favour of not subjecting the rule to judicial review.
Miller says while this is challenging, she urges citizens to vote in large numbers in whatever way they can, whether it’s by using the letter they get while their application is processing as identification or a prior eligibility card from 2009 signed by former President Robert Doucette.
“The biggest thing is that if you have a card, you have that membership or you have a letter, get out and vote. This is so important.”
Election Day is May 29th, after which representatives in WR1A, across the province and at the executive level will be decided for the next four years.