Walpole Island First Nation officials are pointing to an “archaic” clause in the federal Indian Act, which has allowed two high profile celebrities to be nominated for Chief in their upcoming 2020 election.
Sir Paul McCartney, a former member of The Beatles, and Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds have been nominated for Chief and appear on the initial list of nominees, which was shared on Walpole Island’s Facebook page:
“Both names were nominated by eligible electors,” James Jenkins, director of operations for Walpole Island, told the Sydenham Current.
“Our electoral officer is attempting to contact them under guidelines from Indigenous Services Canada (ISC).”
Jenkins said McCartney and Reynolds may not remain on the nomination list for long.
“ISC has provided direction to remove the names if the electoral officer cannot make contact by 4 p.m. on Thursday,” Jenkins added.
Having the musician and actor on the list in the first place is technically allowed under the legislation.
“Under the Indian Act, the Chief does not have to be a member of the First Nation,” Jenkins said.
“The Indian Act has not been amended for over 100 years except by Supreme Court decisions.”
Jenkins said there are steps Walpole Island could take, which would prevent this type of situation from happening in the future.
“An eligibility requirement for Chief could be put in place through either, one, a custom election code ratified by the membership or, two, the ratification of a constitution and further ratification of election procedures by the membership,” Jenkins said.
Having McCartney and Reynolds listed as nominees has led to international attention to the First Nations reserve.
TMZ, a tabloid news website, published an article on August 11, 2020, which can be seen here, and several other media outlets have picked up on the story as well.
“The international attention may shed light on how archaic the Indian Act is, which is the federal legislation that governs First Nations in Canada,” Jenkins added.
In total, 12 people have been nominated for Chief and over 80 people have been nominated for Council.
Election day is scheduled for September 19, 2020 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Election and counting will take place at the Walpole Island First Nation governance building.
More details, here.
Top Photo: Paul McCartney in Arnhem in 2009, playing his customised Les Paul Guitar painted by Rosie Brooks at the GelreDome. Credit: Eddie Janssens. License, here.
Inset Photo: Ryan Reynolds at The Voices premiere at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. Credit: dtstuff9. License, here.