A response to the ongoing electoral crisis in M’Chigeeng

The 1,000-plus people who have been placed on a need to apply list should be told

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is an open letter to the membership of M’Chigeeng First Nation, on and off-reserve, that has been printed here at the author’s request.

First and foremost, I want to say chi-miigwetch to those who nominated and voted for me in the 2017 M’Chigeeng First Nation (MFN) election. I consider it an honour to have had your confidence in providing leadership in our community.

As it is now public knowledge an appeal has been filed by an anonymous author(s) to the elections appeal committee. This letter dated September 21, 2017 named myself directly and stated “Albert Beaudin was not an eligible voter but was nominated as a candidate in contravention of 26(1) of the MFN Customs Election.”

As my name was directly used to appeal the MFN election, I would like to address a couple of my concerns:

The appeal letter indicates there are four lists. What are these “four lists” and how does the author of the appeal letter know about these lists when those affected are not aware? To my understanding there are over 1,100 names on these various lists. These lists must be made public knowledge, so that all those affected by these actions can weigh-in and act accordingly.

The MFN Elections Appeal Committee met on October 2, 2017 and accepted as consensus the validity of the appeal letter that the election was in contravention of the elections code. I was not given the opportunity to prove that I am a M’Chigeeng band member and that it was my right to vote and run for council before the MFN elections.

It should be noted that my late mother Doreen Beaudin (nee Debassige) Band #1810104601 was a member of M’Chigeeng First Nation and had lost her status upon marrying my father. She rightfully regained her status in 1985 when the decision was heard in the Supreme Court of Canada when Ms. Jeannette Corbiere Lavell filed against the discriminatory and unfair law targeting First Nation women. Now, we (myself, my siblings, our children, and our future generations) are facing membership concerns despite a victory of return my mom once celebrated. Since 1986 I have voted in the MFN elections, my brothers have been voted in as council members in the past and have dutifully fulfilled their terms. I possess certificate of Indian Status Registry which also indicated M’Chigeeng First Nation as the affiliated band and have been receiving treaty monies under the MFN “Treaty List” all without any concern regarding my membership status.

I have a letter from the MFN Administration re: MFN Membership Code dated May 24, 2017. This letter was to inform me that I would be required to complete an application for membership. Prior to this letter I thought I was a MFN band member since 1986 and was NOT aware that I would have to reapply for MFN membership. This letter states “it is important to note that all services and voting rights will remain in place until April 29, 2019.” As the direct recipient of this letter issued by MFN Administration, I am rightfully entitled to my vote and as such, an eligible candidate for position on council.

In closing, it is obvious that I have been a band member of the M’Chigeeng First Nation since June 28, 1986, even though a few may think otherwise. M’Chigeeng’s own vision statement notes pride on being “vibrant, progressive, proud and united.” Instead we are currently faced with conflict, categorization and divide. In my opinion, the Membership Code process as it stands lacks transparency,  accountability and communication to those it affects. The 1,100+ people that have been placed on a “need to apply” need to be informed and involved to ensure that their voices are heard.

Miigwetch,

Albert Beaudin

M’Chigeeng First Nation