Wikwemikong chooses Duke Peltier as new chief

WIKWEMIKONG—The votes are in, tallied and certified in the election of a new band council for the Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve. Duke Peltier was elected chief with 359 ballots. Other results in the race for chief were Bernadine Francis, 301; Gladys Wakegijig, 219; Maureen E. Trudeau-Manitowabi, 142; and Stewart Assiniwe, 75.

The 12 council seats will be filled by Duke Peltier, 561; Bernadine Francis, 542; Maureen E. Trudeau-Manitowabi, 429; Lawrence Enosse, 396; Gladys Wakegijig, 389; Robert (Bobbie) Corbiere, 341; Ceclia J.C. Pitawanakwat (O’Connor), 319; Margaret (Tish) Manitowabi, 315; John Dube, 310; Luke Wassegijig, 287; Lorraine Fox, 285; and Eugene A. Manitowabi, 275.

With Chief Peltier also gaining the most votes as councillor, the band has a bit of a conundrum facing it. Recent tradition has seen the band operate with 11 councillors, largely to avoid the cost of holding a by-election in similar situations following band elections where the same person has stood and been elected as both chief and band councillor. Although the simple expedient of bumping up the next highest candidate in votes would seem self-evident, the terms of the Indian Act do not allow for so simple a solution.

“We could thumb our noses at the Indian Act,” said veteran councillor Eugene Manitowabi. “But you saw what happened with M’Chigeeng when they went their own way.” M’Chigeeng’s election code was not approved by Indian Affairs at the time, leading to an invalidation of the election and a significant measure of time before that band could regain official control of its affairs.

The Wikwemikong band election is conducted every two years under terms set out in the Indian Act.