B.C. First Nations head to the polls amid pandemic

Elections moving forward in many communities despite coronavirus

The COVID-19 pandemic is not deterring numerous First Nations across B.C. from heading to the polls this year.

Hand sanitizer placed on a table was the first thing to greet T’exelc members (Williams Lake First Nation) entering the Elizabeth Grouse Gymnasium south of Williams Lake to select three councillors for a four-year term on Wednesday, Aug. 19.

Read More: ‘Opportunity’ for election in fall, next spring or summer, B.C. premier says

With voting hours from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., electoral officer Lisa Camille said there are more than 400 registered band members who are eligible to vote.

“We will have the safety measures in place with the two metres,” Camille said, noting there were no concerns in moving forward with the election.

Mail-in ballot packages were made available to anyone living on reserve who may not have been able to vote in-person, and were also sent to off-reserve members.

Read More: Yunesit’in Chief Russell Myers Ross not seeking re-election

West of Williams Lake, members of the Yunesit’in First Nation (Stone) will elect a new chief and two-members of council. Chief Russell Myers-Ross who is not seeking re-election said their election will go ahead on Sept. 9 after having been postponed.

The Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation (Canoe/Dog Creek) approximately 85 kilometres southwest of Williams Lake will have an election on Oct. 7 at Dog Creek with advance polls on Sept. 29 in Williams Lake and Oct. 1 in Kamloops.

One chief and five councillors will be elected.

Read More: Feds commit $305M in additional funds for Indigenous communities during COVID-19

Noting the public health risks associated with large gatherings, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) said a new temporary option allows First Nations leaders to continue exercising their roles and duties within their communities for up to six months, with the potential to extend for another six months.

“The final decision to hold or postpone an election belongs to the community,” ISC said on the Government of Canada’s webpage. “ISC will support First Nations in whichever option they choose.”

Do you have a comment about this story? email:

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusElectionsFirst Nations

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Troy McMillan was flown to a Vancouver hospital Oct. 18 after falling into the boards while playing hockey Oct. 11. (Submitted Photo)
Quesnel family “overwhelmed” by support after hockey injury

Troy McMillan is fighting for his life after tumbling into the boards Oct. 11

Current students from Quesnel Junior School help break the ground at the construction site of the new Junior School. The project has been in development since 2005, and it is expected to be completed in 2022. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Quesnel School District “COVID-free”

Superintendent Sue-Ellen Miller is happy with how two September exposure events were handled

This Google Maps screenshot shows the Highway 97 intersection at Juniper Road that is being deactivated in South Quesnel. (Google Maps screenshot)
Juniper Road intersection being deactivated in South Quesnel

Traffic can no longer enter or exit Highway 97 at Juniper Road in a move to improve road safety

Quesnel was hit with unseasonably October snowfall earlier this week. More is on the way on Sunday, Oct. 25 and Monday, Oct. 26, and Quesnel and North Cariboo are under a winter storm warning. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
UPDATE: Winter storm warning ends for Quesnel

10-20 cm of snow and freezing rain was expected to start Sunday night

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

RCMP have released more details regarding what led up to an arrest caught on video in Williams Lake Sunday, Oct. 26. (Facebook video screenshot)
Review launched after ‘high-risk, multi-jurisdictional’ chase, arrest in Williams Lake

RCMP launching a full review and code of conduct investigation

B.C. limits events in private homes to household, plus ‘safe six’ amid COVID-19 surge

Henry issued a public health order limiting private gatherings to one household, plus a group of ‘safe six’ only

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson speaks during a drive-in car rally campaign stop at a tour bus operator, in Delta, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Andrew Wilkinson stepping down as B.C. Liberal leader

Will stay on until the next party leader is chosen

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

VicPD and B.C. Conservation Officer Service teamed up to free two bucks who were entangled in a fishing net and dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them. (VicPD)
VIDEO: Police, B.C. Conservation help two bucks caught in one fishing net

Bucks were also dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them

“We have to make a call out to address this now so our people don’t have to feel fearful,” said Tribal Chief Mina Holmes. (Carrier Sekani Tribal Council Facebook photo)
Carrier Sekani Tribal Council seeks Indigenous-led task force in northern B.C. hospitals

Request made in an open letter to federal minister Carolyn Bennett

A heavy police presence was spotted in Lumby, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (Facebook)
Police situation leads to ‘hold and secure’ at North Okanagan school

Police call for social media blackout in ongoing incident

Most Read