Gwichya Gwich’in members are still waiting for an election date to be set after its June 18 chief election results were appealed.

Band manager Larry Dalley says the Gwichya Gwich’in Council is selecting five election committee members, who are to be unbiased and local, and it’ll be up to the committee to appoint a chief electoral officer and deputy returning officer from within its ranks. The chief electoral officer will then call the date of the election.

“Currently, my position here as a band manager is restricted to asking council to appoint five election committee members, and I’m not involved in the election at all after that,” said Dalley.

The June 18 election was overturned on the grounds that mail-in ballots, which are supposed to be sent to out-of-town Gwichya Gwich’in members at least 49 days before the election, weren’t sent out until just eight days before the election.

The original results had Russel Andre beat incumbent Phillip Blake by one vote.

Andre has been publicly critical of the election process since the results were overturned. News/North was unable to schedule an interview with Andre by press time, but he had told media this summer that he was calling on the federal government and the territorial department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA) to investigate the election.

Every band election since 2014 has been contested.

As the Gwichya Gwich’in band was established under the Indian Act, MACA has no authority or jurisdiction over its elections, according to Jay Boast, spokesperson for the department.

“The rules around their elections are established under a custom election code created under the authority given to the band under the Indian Act,” stated Boast in an email.

“MACA’s only interest in this is that the Charter Community of Tsiigehtchic has a number of their council seats appointed directly from the band. We are hopeful that the band resolves this matter as soon as possible in order to allow the charter council to continue with their business.”

William Olscamp, spokesperson for Indigenous Services Canada, reiterated the Gwichya Gwich’in band operates under its own election rules.

“Consequently, there is no role for (Indigenous Services Canada) to play in addressing complaints related to the election process, nor can the department conduct an investigation,” he stated.

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