In the age of COVID-19 the preferred method of voting is the online version but three ways are available to members the six Stó:lō communities voting on a new constitution across the Fraser Valley.
Chief Terry Horne of Yeqwyeqwí:ws, Siyemches, has been talking to members about why it’s important to vote in the coming days, and what a ‘yes’ vote on the constitution, Shxwelméxwelh, might mean for communities.
Over the past two years, they’ve hammered out a draft constitution. It was ratified by leadership on the heels of consultation with membership and is now in front of community members for approval. It defines who they are, where they come from, and how they will be governed once they get out from under the Indian Act.
“Our treaty is like a living tree,” Horne said in a release. “It will adapt to changing circumstances, as policies evolve or new rights are established by the courts.”
The six Stó:lō communities include Áthelets/ Aitchelitz, Leq’á:mel, Sq’ewá:lxw/ Skawahlook, Sq’ewqéyl/Skowkale, Ch’iyáqtel/Tzeachten, and Yeqwyeqwí:ws/ Yakweakwioose, all located in the Fraser Valley.
The six communities are now engaged in online voting, mail-in balloting, and in-person voting, which is Nov. 13 and 14.
With a yes vote, they’ll have a mandate to move another step away from the Indian Act and toward their own governance system, according to documents prepared by Stó:lō Xwexwilmexw Treaty Association (SXTA).
The approach is based on respect and recognition, guided by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls-to-action, and on case law.
The Stó:lō people’s constitution will be known as Shxwelméxwelh, a document mapping out the Stó:lō way.
It includes a structure for a new national government with jurisdiction over things like health and family services, but maintains the existing six villages as Indian Act bands.
On-line voting is now open. The ‘personal registry number’ for on-line voting was sent in a yellow envelope from Fred Schiffner, Chief Ratification Officer. Mail-in ballots were mailed the first week of October and must be returned by Nov. 14 at 6 p.m. Questions: Contact Fred Schiffner, chief Ratification Officer at 1-800-813-2173 or cell: 604 786 2512, email firstname.lastname@example.org)
Polling stations will be open from 10 to 6 pm in three locations on Nov. 13 and 14.
1) Stó:lō Nation Government House (for all members): Building 8b-7201 Vedder Road, Chilliwack, BC V2R 4G5
2) Leq’á:mel (Lakahamen): 43101 Leq’á:mel Way, Deroche, B.C. V0M 1G0
3) Ch’iyáqtel (Tzeachten): 6325 Matheson Road, Chilliwack, B.C. V2R 4S8
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