The Liard First Nation electoral committee has agreed to let 11 members vote in an upcoming election after a review determined they have sufficient Kaska ancestry to cast a ballot.
The 11 residents, most of whom live in Lower Post, B.C., were told not to vote in the advance poll on Monday because their status as members of the First Nation had been called into question.
Chief Electoral Officer Pauline Lund confirmed that the electoral committee reached the decision Tuesday.
She said the members would be receiving letters confirming their eligibility. "There have been a lot of false rumours circulating about this. No one has been cut off from voting," Lund says.
Some are calling the review an attempt to influence the election. George Morgan is running for chief and he says it’s unacceptable.
“This secret election committee somehow has the expertise to discern who has and who does not have Kaska ancestry?” Morgan says. "It's arbitrary. It's a decision based on some individuals who have been appointed by a secret process."
Jim Wolftail is also running for chief.
Before the election committee's decision was announced, he said he trusted their judgment. "It's the election committee's ball, they are there to deal with it, and all I am going to do is stay out of it," he said.
Candidate decries 'harmful rumours'
Wolftail says the campaign in the Liard First Nation has become highly antagonistic.
He says residents have circulated letters which accuse the current Chief and council of mismanagement.
Wolftail says rumours in the community are false and harmful.
"It's kind of sad to see it going this way. People are saying we're spending money we don't have. There are some letters at the laundromat accusing the former chief and council — a lot of personal attacks. It's sad. It's fragmenting the community. A lot of (members) are walking around not knowing what to believe anymore, whether it's the truth or a rumour. And a lot of our elders are getting dragged into it," he said.
"You've got people spreading rumours and a lot of them are so outrageous that if they were true, half the people they're accusing would be in jail. It's crazy out here," Wolftail said.
A total of 875 people are eligible to vote in the Liard First Nation; 195 have already cast a ballot through an advance poll.
There are five candidates running for chief and 28 candidates running for six spots of council, two of which are reserved for residents of Lower Post.
There are also two candidates for deputy chief which the rules state must live in Lower Post.
Voting takes place on December 16th.