STEPHENVILLE — Brendan Sheppard is looking to stay on in his current position of chief of Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band after the band’s first election on Oct. 23.
Sheppard confirmed in an interview Tuesday that he will be running for the position and is leaving it up to members as to whether they want him “to continue to build a strong organization for them.”
Sheppard said with something new now started, he believes it’s important that people who worked in the transition be elected — whether it’s along with him or a new leader — since they already have knowledge of the policies and procedures that are in place.
He said in addition to the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band Council itself, the organization is still building on a number of other committees including a development corporation, which was appointed outside the council.
Sheppard said there are now more than 23,000 registered members and believes the number of eligible voters will be approximately 17,000. And, he’s hoping those voters hit the polls.
“I hope with the Qalipu band being newly formed there will be a huge turnout for the first election,” he said.
“It would be nice to see the majority of eligible voters get out to the polls on that day.”
Sheppard said the most pressing issue leading up to the election is that members ensure they are included on the voters’ list.
“Reaching these people is our (band council’s) No. 1 task,” Sheppard said. “I encourage all members to go in and update their membership so each and every one of them can be reached.”
Members can do the update by going to the www.qalipu.ca website and clicking on the update member information link, then going into the Ginu Options.
Sheppard served as president of the now defunct Federation of Newfoundland Indians from 1994 up to the formation of the Qalipu First Nations Band in September 2011.
He feels it’s going to be an interesting election and expects he will face some competition in his bid to remain chief. He’s also expecting plenty of interest in the two vice-chief positions and the nine wards throughout province. The chief’s position is the only paid position and that everyone else is on a per diem basis for attendance at meetings.
Wayne Green of St. Johns was appointed by the band council as the electoral officer under the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band Customs Elections Rules. He will be making a call in the near future for nominations for the positions outlined in the agreement.