Métis Nation of Alberta calls re-election of local president 'a sham'

A regional branch of the Métis Nation of Alberta is calling for another election in Lac La Biche after receiving complaints that the local Métis council president hosted the last election privately in her home.

Local president Brenda Stratichuk allegedly called election in her home and only invited family and friends

A regional branch of the Métis Nation of Alberta is calling for another election after one of its local presidents allegedly hosted a private election in her home. (Facebook)

A regional branch of the Métis Nation of Alberta is calling for another election in Lac La Biche after receiving complaints that the local Métis council president hosted the last election privately in her home.

The Métis Nation of Alberta Region 1 council met Friday to denounce the actions of Métis Local 2097 president Brenda Stratichuk, who they say called a private election in her own home on Nov. 16 so friends and family could vote her back into office.

"I was really taken aback by it," said Dianne Scoville, president of the Métis regional council, the body that oversees the Lac La Biche council. "It's the first that I've heard of it, the first that I've seen it ... It's just not something you do."

The Métis Nation of Alberta has six regional offices to oversee the conduct of officials in local offices like Lac La Biche. Region 1 is the largest region and has 10 Locals from Athabasca to Fort Chipewyan, incorporated under the Societies Act of Alberta. 

'It has to do with the process'

Stratichuk has been with the Métis Nation for 20 years, Scoville said.

"It has nothing to do with the person, it has to do with the process," Scoville said.

Scoville could not comment on how past elections have been run in the Lac La Biche office.

The Métis Region 1 office represents approximately 2,500 Métis people.

Stratichuk declined CBC's request for comment.

Elections must be held in public location

Lawyer Dwayne Roth said the election Stratichuk allegedly ran is not illegal under provincial laws.

According to the Societies Act, election regulations for all societies in the province are governed by their own private bylaws.

The Métis Nation's bylaws say elections will be declared every four years only after certain requirements are met. First, the incumbent local president has to sit through an executive meeting with the local board, where they will decide a time and public location for the election. 

The nation also requires that the election be advertised either online or by local media at least 21 days in advance.

"That never happened," said Scoville, who is normally asked to chair election meetings.

Scoville said Stratichuk will be allowed to run again as long as the election is held in a public place.

Métis members question governance structure 

Jason Ekelburg attended Stratichuk's private meeting on Nov. 16 and said he overheard members being turned away.

He promptly left the meeting to return home, where he began writing a formal complaint against the Local president.

"I didn't want to be a part of it," he said. "I didn't want to be a part of the illegal election that was taking place." 

In the 1960s, the nation used to hold elections in private homes, Scoville said, because there were few public spaces where they could host several hundred people.

"It's 2018 now, where we have to hold ourselves to a higher standard," Scoville said.

"If we're saying ... we are here to take care of our citizens and have a fair election, then let's walk the talk." 

anna.desmarais@cbc.ca

@anna_desmarais