Patricia Bernard has been re-elected as chief of the Madawaska Maliseet First Nation.
Bernard received 210 votes while her only challenger, David Pelletier received 62 votes. Councillors Donna Wallace-Bourgeault and Diane Pelletier were also re-elected as councillors. Walllace-Bourgeault received 185 votes and Pelletier received 182 votes.
The two other challengers for council, Louise Ouellette and Brian Stewart received 95 and 81 votes respectively. According to Bernard, 279 votes were cast in last week’s election.
The First Nation election was held on August 27.
“I feel quite good actually,” Chief Bernard said Monday. “I was humbled by the results.”
“It demonstrates to me that the people were happy with the current term that we had and how our community is moving and growing,” Bernard said.
The August 27 election was the first one held under the new First Nations Elections Act. Bernard and her two councillors will serve a four-year term instead of the standard two-year term under the Indian Act.
First election under new First Nations Elections Act
In June, the Madawaska Maliseet First Nation became the first Aboriginal community in Canada to opt into the First Nations Elections Act, which came into effect in April. Since then, two other First Nations, the Micmacs of Gesgapegiag in Quebec and English River First Nation in Saskatchewan, have opted into the new act.
The legislation was the result of a joint initiative by the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs to make recommendations on legislation to address certain election issues under the Indian Act.
In addition to extending chief and council terms from two to four years, the act also provides:
- Clarity on eligibility to run for chief.
- A candidacy fee of $250 that is only refundable if the candidate receives less than five per cent of the vote.
- Penalties for offences such as obstructing the electoral process or engaging in corrupt or fraudulent activities during an election.
- The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada has no role in receiving, investigating and deciding on election appeals.
“The four years is helpful in long-term planning,” Bernard explained.
“If you’re a community that’s focused on any kind of economic development, stability is one of the main contributors to people wanting to invest in a community,” she said.
“If we want to become a more self-sufficient, that particular stable government is a necessity.”
Bernard said she plans to continue with the First Nation’s economic growth plan and work towards settling unresolved land claims with the federal government during this term in office.