As candidates for the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) elections are in full campaign mode, there were several would-be contenders who were deemed ineligible to run in the upcoming election.
Three prospective candidates had hopes of running in various positions for the FSIN executive, but plans were halted after they discovered on Sept. 29, 2021, that their names were not on the candidate list.
“My position is that we were treated unfairly under the electoral process of the federation as prospective candidates,” said Wallace Fox, who was hoping to run for FSIN Chief.
“We were not given the opportunity to address in person or via Zoom call with an electoral officer.”
Fox, who was a former chief of Onion Lake Cree Nation, said he and the other two men should have been treated fairly by the elections committee. According to Fox, he, Christopher Merasty and Claude Friday were contacted on the day of submission deadline to provide further documentation for their criminal record checks (CPIC). They said they all complied.
“I’ve used that same CPIC in my election at home in Onion Lake. It was never a problem or a concern,” he said. “I got my legal counsel, my legal opinion. It’s either I have a criminal record or not. In this case, I do not have a criminal record.”
Back in October 2016, Fox pled guilty to one count of assault, but did not receive jail time. The former chief initially faced four charges stemming from an incident in May 2015 that police say happened at a home in his community. The other three charges — assault, possessing a knife for a dangerous purpose and uttering threats — were withdrawn.
FSIN did not state if Fox, Merasty and Friday’s applications to run in the FSIN election were due to their criminal record checks. However, FSIN released a statement following the three men’s public statement.
“Baseless allegations against the FSIN, the FSIN Credentials Committee, and the Electoral Officials have recently surfaced in the media by a few candidates that were deemed ineligible to run in the upcoming election,” according to the FSIN statement.
“The actions of these candidates and those members of the Senate is an attempt to subvert the resolutions and legislation of the FSIN Chiefs-in-Assembly.”
The FSIN statement went on to say the current 13 candidates all provided the required documented by the deadline and that letters were sent out by registered mail to those who were deemed ineligible by the Credentials Committee. The date of this action was not indicated.
“Allegations that the Credentials Committee made any of its decisions in contravention of the FSIN Election Act, or under undue influence, are completely unfounded,” said in the FSIN statement.
“Also, any allegation that the ‘Chief-of-Staff’ was on the Credentials Committee is false, pursuant to the FSIN Election Act.”
Friday was hoping to run for vice-chief but like Fox and Merasty, that was not possible. He said he was also mistreated as he followed the rules upon applying to run the in FSIN election. He said he got a call on Sept. 28 after hours and was questioned about his criminal record.
“I (wouldn’t) dare put my name forward…if I was even convicted of anything in the last five years,” said Friday.
“They treated me like a criminal.”
The three would-be candidates were hoping for a postponement of the election and to be put on the candidate list. But according to the FSIN statement, the election will proceed as planned.
The FSIN election is on Oct. 28, 2021.