A decision on the appeal of Tsiigehtchic’s chief election is expected to be available today.
The results of the community’s June 18 election had Russel Andre winning the seat at 56 votes, followed by incumbent Phillip Blake at 55 votes. Last week, it became public that someone had appealed the election.
“There has been an appeal placed on the election process and there’s been a committee struck to go over the appeal and validate it or disallow it and that’s taking place this Sunday,” said Gwichya Gwich’in band manager Larry Dalley on Wednesday.
“Until the appeal process is finished, the author of the appeal and the name of the person who requested the appeal has got to be kept private,” said Dalley.
Dalley confirmed the section of the Gwichya Gwich’in Election Code upon which the appeal is based. Section 12.1 reads that “Any elector or candidate may appeal an election if they believe that a serious offence was committed which is contrary to this code and which likely affected the election results.”
It’s the latest in a string of controversial elections in the community. In 2015, after problems with previous elections, the band rewrote its election code to make it less ambiguous and confusing, former election officer Graeme Drew told News/North that year.
Despite that clarity, the 2015 election also bore its own controversy. Grace Blake had attempted to run against Phillip Blake but was prevented from doing so as she was not on the band list issued by the federal Department of Aboriginal and Northern Development Canada (AANDC), which has since been reconfigured and renamed.
An exception in the band’s election code would allow a candidate to run despite this, in extraordinary circumstances, but it was not applied in Grace Blake’s case.
She wrote a letter to then-AANDC minister Bernard Valcourt requesting that he get involved, but, in the end, Phillip Blake’s acclamation to the role stood.