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Band Council Elections

A Band Council may be elected either:

1) By custom of the band - in such cases all elections are good if held in accordance with the custom.
2) In accordance with the terms of the Indian Act and Regulations. By Section 74, the Minister may decide if he wishes that the band shall conduct its election in accordance with the provisions of the Act. NOTE this power is in the Minister and he can overrule the wishes of the band.

Elections for Chief and council are usually held without much regard for the Act or the regulations. However, if a band has been ordered by the Minister to hold elections according to the provisions of the Indian Act and Regulations these regulations must be followed. If the regulations and Act are not followed the elections could be wiped out and another called.

Apparently the government doesn't take too much interest in how elections are held except when complaint is made and then they must conduct an investigation according to the regulation.

The Indian Act stipulates that the Council must have one Chief and one councillor for every 100 members but not less than 2 nor more than 12.

Section 74 of the Act provides for the dividing of the reserves into election areas if the members of the band vote to have the reserves so divided.

Any member of band who is 21 years of age and ordinarily resident on a reserve is entitled to vote, according to the Act.

At present there is a private members bill before Parliament to lower the voting age from 21 to 18. This bill was placed before the House without any consultation with Indian people. As of today it has not yet been passed.

Problems arise under this section with regard to persons "ordinarily resident" on reserves. The way to discover the meaning of "ordinarily resident" you must refer to Section 3 of the Indian Band Election Regulations". The regulations are vague and open to question; however, they say that it is the place he calls home and when he is away he intends to return. The regulations also state that a person can have

Band Council Elections

only one place of ordinary residence. Some bands hold their elections and allow anybody whose name appears on the band list to vote. This is against the Act and regulations and the election could be overturned.

A person nominated for Chief or councillor must be an elector (this includes ordinarily resident), and a resident in a section. The nominations must be moved and seconded by an elector who resides in the section.

The regulations provide that notices of meetings of the electors must be posted 6 clear days before the nomination meeting. The meeting is opened and must remain open for nominations for 2 hours. If there are more people nominated than there are positions then an election shall be called.

The Act provides that Governor and Council may make regulations providing that Chief shall be elected in one of two ways:

1) Majority of votes of electors. This could mean the man who got the most votes for councillor or persons running against each other for the office of chief.

2) After the elections of all the councillors the councillors decide among themselves who will be chief.

There are no regulations passed under this section so a band may decide upon either of the alternatives.

The Act says the term for both Chief and councillors shall be 2 years. No provision is made for staggering or for longer terms. The office of either Chief or Council becomes vacant when he is:

1) Convicted of indictable offence (this is one of the more serious offences under the Criminal Code).

2) Dies or resigns.

3) Becomes ineligible under the act.

Or when the Minister in his opinion believes:

1) Person unfit to continue because he has committed an offence. (Note: this does not say indictable and could be any type of offence.)

2) Absent for three consecutive meetings without authorization (doesn't say who can authorize but probably it means band council.)

3) Guilty of dishonesty, accepting bribe, malfeascuces (breach of public trust). If disqualified under the section Minister.


In 1969 the Government sponsored a series of meetings to which representatives of Indian Bands were invited to discuss the effect of the Act in the light of proposals put forward by Indian Advisory Councils.

At those meetings the Indian representatives made it apparent that they sought a fundamental review of the future position of Indian people in Canadian society. They largely endorsed a special status for registered Indians but were unable to define the full range of rights they sought.

Claims and grievances of many kinds were frequently raised. The mechanics of legislation were less important to most of the representatives than were the fundamentals.

In June, 1969 the Government responded with a series of policy proposals which had as their objective ultimate full and equal participation of Indian people in all phases of Canadian life - cultural, social, economic and political. It aimed to give Indians the same freedoms, rights and opportunities as other Canadians while ensuring the survival and development foreseen that in due course, special status would no longer be required.

The six major points of the Policy were:

(a) That the legislative and constitutional basis of discrimination be removed;
(b) That there be positive recognition by everyone of the unique contribution of Indian culture to Canadian life;
(c) That services come through the same channels and from the same Government agencies for all Canadians;
(d) That those who are furthest behind be helped most
(e) That lawful obligations be recognized;