Campaigning for the inaugural election of the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band Council is well underway. Tuesday, Oct. 23 has been set aside for the election for all positions on the band council, including chief, central vice-chief, western vice-chief and a council with representatives for each of the nine wards throughout Newfoundland. The electoral wards include: Flat Bay, St. George’s, Stephenville, Port au Port, Benoit’s Cove, Corner Brook, Exploits, Glenwood and Gander Bay. The deadline for nominations is set for Oct. 1.
No time is being wasted in getting this election done and nominations in. Those who are seeking the positions need to act fast if they want to be included in the election process.
The only thing left to put in place are all the candidates.
Brendan Sheppard, the incumbent chief, was quick to affirm that he is looking to retain his top job with the Qalipu Band.
For those who are of Mi’kmaq descent, this will be not only an interesting, but a historic election as it is the first since the agreement was signed in June 2008 between the federal government and the Federation of Newfoundland Indians, resulting in the creation of the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation close to a year ago in September 2011.
The number of people registered in the band is continually rising and it’s been estimated there will be about 17,000 eligible voters at the time of the election on Oct. 23.
There seems to be great interest in the chief’s job, a paid position. In the days to follow there will be many people lining up and putting their names forward for the two vice-chief positions and the ward representatives, which are at this time volunteer positions.
This election gains notoriety because of the fact that it’s the first one and the people involved are all treading on new ground. There’s a lot at stake and everyone is aware those at the top will be responsible for steering this new organization in the right direction.
There is a lot to be gained, not only for the individuals who are registered in the band, but also in the communities in which they live. It’s been a long fight, which lasted decades, and now the members have the right to have their say by electing the people who they believe will best serve their interests. It’s so important for members to get out and vote for a person of their choice for the different positions when the time rolls around.
A large turnout is needed to make the best choices on election day.