CORNER BROOK — The next major development in the evolution of the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band will unfold today as the members of the aboriginal group head to the polls in the band’s first election.
The historic day comes 13 months after the landless band was formally established in Newfoundland and Labrador from what was formerly the Federation of Newfoundland Indians.
There are a total of 12 positions up for grabs in today’s vote, including chief, western vice-chief, central vice-chief and a ward councillor for each of the nine wards located throughout central and western Newfoundland.
One of those positions, namely ward councillor for Flat Bay, has already been decided with Ben Bennett being elected by acclamation.
There are a whopping nine candidates seeking the chief position, while slates of three candidates apiece will be on the ballots for the western and central vice-chief roles.
There are eight candidates to choose from for the ward council seat in Corner Brook, while three choices are available to those voting for the Benoit’s Cove ward. There are two candidates apiece in each of the Port au Port, Stephenville and St. George’s wards.
In central Newfoundland, there are three candidates running in the wards of Exploits and two band members running in Glenwood. Nobody put their hat in the ring in the Gander Bay ward.
Advance polls were held in Corner Brook, Stephenville and Grand Falls-Windsor last Wednesday.
Today, the polls open in all of the wards one minute after noon and will remain open until 8 p.m. tonight.
In western Newfoundland, polling stations will be located at the St. John the Evangelist Church Hall in Corner Brook, the Benoit’s Cove Community Hall, the Leisure Club in Port au Port, the Stephenville Lions Club and at St. Joseph’s Parish Hall in St. George’s.
In central Newfoundland, voting will be conducted at St. Joseph’s Parish Centre in Grand Falls-Windsor and the fire hall in Glenwood.
In order to cast a ballot, voters must be on the founding members list of the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band and be 18 years of age or older as of today.