Pelican Narrows mayor frustrated with lack of consultation over voting procedures
Pelican Narrows Mayor Ovide Michel.
SASKATOON -- The mayor of the Northern Village of Pelican Narrows is raising concerns about special voting procedures for Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation (PBCN) communities.
PBCN consists of several northern Saskatchewan communities, including Pelican Narrows, Deschambault Lake, Sandy Bay and Southend. PBCN went into lockdown earlier this month after some members tested positive for COVID-19.
Chief and council decided that it isn’t safe to have in-person voting polls on election day. Instead, in consultation with the chief medical health officer and Elections Saskatchewan, they decided to have an Elections Saskatchewan worker deliver ballot kits to people’s homes. Members needed to apply for a kit by Tuesday.
Pelican Narrows Mayor Ovide Michel said he’s frustrated that chief and council didn’t consult him before making the decision. He said he feels that many people won’t vote because of the special procedures.
“Sandy Bay and Pelican Narrows both have villages and we’re very well populated, right? And that’s going to take a big effect on this election,” said Michel.
“That’s a lot of people, a lot of people that want to vote.”
He said members didn’t have enough notice to apply to vote. Some members who did phone in to apply hung up because it was too time consuming.
He wants Pelican Narrows residents to have access to in-person advance polls.
“Without disrespect to chief and council, I know they’re trying to protect from this coronavirus, COVID-19 from coming into our communities, but we’re in our dome in our community, right? We’re in our bubble.”
Michel isn’t aware of any cases of COVID-19 in the community.
“It’s just not fair in my books,” said Michel. “We just need a fair chance to vote.”
PBCN Chief Peter Beatty there’s no active cases in Pelican Narrows and that the biggest concern is in Southend.
Beatty said members can go to Creighton for in-person advance polls, except for residents who have applied for a ballot kit. Creighton is about 118 kilometres from Pelican Narrows.
“With regard to our band members that live on reserve and our communities that are under lockdown, as far as I know the province has not made us aware that we would have to be consulting with any mayor in our area prior to making a decision,” said Beatty.
Michel said the Village of Pelican Narrows consists of about 1,500 people with an additional 3,500 people living on reserve.