Alan Polchies elected chief of Sitansisk for 3rd term

Re-elected Chief Alan Polchies says he hopes Sitansisk will adopt longer terms for the chief and band councillors for elections in 2024. (CBC - image credit)
Re-elected Chief Alan Polchies says he hopes Sitansisk will adopt longer terms for the chief and band councillors for elections in 2024. (CBC - image credit)

Alan Polchies has held on to his position as chief of Sitansisk for a third term after elections in the Fredericton-area First Nation.

Polchies became the first openly two-spirited chief of a First Nation in Atlantic Canada when he was elected in 2018.

"It certainly is humbling and it is an honour to, of course, be given another mandate to serve and to speak to the important issues," he told Information Morning Fredericton.

Polchies had 396 votes, Evan Sacobie garnered 271 and former chief Candace Paul, who was first elected in 2004 and unseated by Polchies in 2018, received 260 votes.

He said his first orders of business will be to try to change the term length for chief and council, arguing that two years isn't very long for band council to set priorities and accomplish goals.

If council adopts the system offered in newer federal legislation, Polchies said, four-year mandates could begin in 2024.

He said most First Nation communities in the Atlantic provinces have already made the switch.

The two-year mandate was the status quo through the federal Indian Act, which has been criticized as a colonial document partly because it was not written with input from the people it governs.

The Indian Act also does not recognize traditional and hereditary leadership.

The First Nations Election Act was developed in collaboration with First Nations to amend the way elections are held and was introduced in 2015. Some First nations still hold elections under the Indian Act but there's been a recent move toward the new legislation.

In 2017, Oromocto First Nation voted for a chief and band councillors for four-year terms. Elsipogtog, Neqotkuk, Pabineau, Madawaska Maliseet, Indian Island and Tjipogtotjg, also known as Buctouche, also follow the new act.

Polchies said a more long-term goal for him is finding job opportunities for the community, developing more housing and  pursuing new additions to reserve land.

"No one should be homeless," he said. "We have to do better."

He said he will also continue to work on the Wolastoqey land title case.

"We need to reclaim the Wolastoqey territory our homeland and be able to have it set for the next generation so we insure we leave a legacy behind and a bright future for our children," he said.

Six Wolastoqey communities have filed a title claim tor traditional lands along the St. John River, also known as the Wolastoq. The title claim covers about half the province, and winning the case would force federal and provincial governments to consult First Nations when making decisions about land use.

Polchies said he will also push for policy change that will reform First Nations' relationship with the provincial government, which cancelled several tax agreements last year.