The Tahltan Band is in the process of creating a Custom Election Code, with the aim to implement it for the 2014 election. A Custom Election Code allows a band to set out its own procedures for electing government, instead of deferring to the rules set out in the Indian Act.
A Custom Election Code is a document developed by an Indian Band to set out its own procedures for electing its government. Once approved by the Band membership and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, the Band no longer runs its elections under the rules set out in section 74 of the Indian Act and the Act’s corresponding regulations.
It is important to note that a custom code does not refer to any traditional method of leadership section. The use of the term “custom” is meant to distinguish between Band Councils elected under theIndian Act system, and those elected according the rules set out by the Band in its own code.
The Indian Act election process has created many challenges for effective governance in First Nation communities. One of the biggest challenges is the provision in the Act that limits the term of Band Council to two years. For many First Nations, this period has created instability within government and created barriers to getting business done within the community.
The Tahltan Band wishes to establish its own election code for many reasons. First, the Band wishes to determine its own structure of governance developed by the Tahltan people for the Tahltan people, in order to increase transparency and accountability instead of following the colonial election rules of the Indian Act. Secondly, the Indian Act only allows for Chief and Council to sit in their position for two years. As a result, this does not allow sufficient time to move forward with initiatives or projects identified by the Chief and Council as priorities. The Tahltan Band hopes to have a Custom Election Code in place by the 2014 election.