A three-day adjudication hearing which challenged K’atlodeeche First Nation (KFN) Chief April Martel’s acclaimed win in November’s election came to a close after hearings were held, April 12 to 14.

Elaine Auger, a member of the First Nation, sought to run against Martel in the Nov. 24 race for the reserve’s top leadership position, but was denied her candidacy because she did not meet the two-year residency requirement in the KFN election code.

Auger, who grew up on the reserve, had been away living in British Columbia in recent years to pursue post-secondary education opportunities.

Last July she moved back to live and work as a finance clerk for the reserve.

She said in both a written statement and an interview with the Hub the reserve’s rules are ‘discriminatory’ because they draw an unfair distinction between on-reserve and off-reserve members and run contrary to both the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and traditional Dene values, culture and traditions where all people must be treated fairly and given a fair opportunity to participate in the leadership of KFN.

“This discrimination has been going on for years and decades and nobody’s really challenged it,” Auger said. “At the KFN, nobody says anything. They just kind of push it under the rug and think that nobody’s going to say or challenge them.”

Auger said in her statement that she “has always considered the KFN to be her home, notwithstanding (having) to leave for a brief period for professional and education opportunities.”

The adjudication hearing took place over three days at the Chief Lamalice Complex and heard from six witnesses who testified about the KFN election and the residency requirement used to deny Auger the ability to run.

Among them were former chief Roy Fabian and elder and current councillor, Pat Martel, who opposed Auger’s ability to run.

Auger also had support from Doug Cardinal, a distant relative and off-reserve band member with similar complaints.

Other criticisms that Auger raised during the election process were a lack of opportunity for debate, that the nomination period was too short, and that there was poor notification about the election.

“So one of the main reasons (for my complaint) was that it wasn’t advertised enough and it wasn’t carried out properly,” she said.

Auger said she believes there are 230 members of KFN living on-reserve and about 400 off-reserve, so much of the point of her contention was to represent those who don’t live physically on KFN territory.

Although she is not seeking to become chief at the end of this process, with her prime motive to further examine of the residency rule. However, if the hearing leads to an election, she said she would run again.

“It’s up to the adjudicator, but if it does go my way and if there is a new election, then yes, I will put my name forward for the for the position of Chief,” she said.

The adjudicator is expected to provide a ruling in the near future, however a date of delivery was not available on April 20.

Chief April Martel declined to comment on the proceedings.

A message was left with CEO Paul Squires but he did not respond by press time.

Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin College and the University of Ottawa. Simon can be reached at...

Leave a comment

Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.